Last year was a very tough season for the Indianapolis Colts. They began the season with Super Bowl expectations, but they instead went 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
You can point to a number of different reasons why the season fell apart, such as head coach Chuck Pagano being on the final year of his contract or the tension between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. But owner Jim Irsay doesn’t see either of those situations as the reason the Colts fell flat. Instead, he’s got a much simpler reason: Andrew Luck was hurt.
“Honestly, what goes on internally versus what gets reported or what have you, can be a little different,” Irsay told the media after Tuesday night’s practice. “Sometimes, honestly, last year it wasn’t that there was some distraction or Chuck’s lame duck status or Ryan and Chuck’s relationship was difficult so that made us struggle. Really it was more of a year where our franchise quarterback got hurt. If that didn’t happen, who knows what kind of year we would have had.”
Irsay didn’t deny that other issues existed, but he was very emphatic about what caused the Colts to go 8-8. And because he’s convinced that it was Luck’s injuries that caused the disappointing season, he’s feeling pretty good about the 2016 season - because Luck is back.
“Andrew is feeling really healthy,” Irsay said. “He feels great and that makes me feel great because, yeah, we’re under the radar, but we have Andrew Luck.”
Irsay continued to talk about how good Luck can be.
“Andrew understands what those expectations mean,” Irsay said, referring to Luck’s new contract. “I think we all know every year Andrew is in the discussions about being an MVP of the league type of guy. We are having a great year, and look at it, it’s a quarterback driven league there’s no question about it. And we want to do everything we can to get him the position to play great and be in that three or four guys in the league that’s talked about for the MVP. That’s the way it should be every year. He’s up to the challenge. He knows the pressures that come with being Andrew Luck. He’s a special young man. He’s excited. He’s in his prime.”
The Colts aren’t anybody’s hot pick to win the Super Bowl this year, as instead there are plenty of people picking the Colts to finish third in their division. But Jim Irsay isn’t falling into the trap of thinking the Colts stink, as he knows their franchise player is back and healthy, which should lead to results on the field in 2016.
And here’s the thing: he’s right. Last year, Andrew Luck missed nine games due to injuries - which included shoulder and rib injuries as well as a torn abdominal muscle and lacerated kidney. Even in the seven games in which he played, he didn’t look right and was a far cry from the player who led the league in touchdown passes a year before. But number 12 is back - with a brand new $140 million contract - and is practicing without limitations and is 100%. And in addition to all of that, Luck has a bit of an edge to him this year, a chip on his shoulder because of how last season went.
If Luck plays all 16 games this year, the Colts will be right back in the playoff race. That’s what Jim Irsay realizes too, so he isn’t buying all of the dismal talk surrounding the team this year. Yeah, the Colts are under the radar... but they have Andrew Luck. That could prove to be the difference in 2016.