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Bruce Arians: When you put Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger together, you’ve got Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

When the Indianapolis Colts drafted Andrew Luck first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, they paired the phenomenal young prospect with a seasoned expert offensive coach in Bruce Arians, the Colts’ new offensive coordinator.

It worked out perfectly, as under Arians (who spent most of the season as interim head coach along with his offensive coordinator duties) Luck had a successful rookie season, starting all 16 games and completing 54.1% of his passes for 4,374 yards (an NFL rookie record) and 23 touchdowns against 18 picks for a passer rating of 76.5, while he also added 255 yards and five touchdowns rushing while averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

After the 2012 season in which Arians was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year, he left to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, where he’s gone 41-22-1 with two playoff berths and another Coach of the Year award.

Arians is still filled with high praise for Luck, however. He appeared on the Herd with Colin Cowherd today and compared Luck to a combination of Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

“Well you know I’ve been very fortunate to have Peyton Manning as a rookie,” Arians began, “been with Ben Roethlisberger as a rookie, and I was Peyton’s first quarterbacks coach, so when you put those two guys together, you’ve got Andrew Luck. You’ve got the cerebralness of Peyton, at even a higher level, and then you’ve got the grit, the fire, the athleticism of Ben, the toughness. I think he’s one of the best young ones to ever come out.”

It’s quite remarkable that Arians has been with Manning, Roethlisberger, and Luck as rookies, and he’s obviously done good work in helping all three get their careers started right. Manning and Roethlisberger are both heading to the Hall of Fame when they’re eligible, while Luck has had a tremendous first five seasons.

Arians arrived to the Colts in 1998 as quarterbacks coach, where he stayed for three seasons, and then again in 2012 as the offensive coordinator.

“Yeah, it was like deja vu when I went back to the Colts,” he said. “It was a new head coach, new general manager, and new quarterback. And we did it with Jim Mora, Bill Polian, and Peyton, and then I went back with Andrew and Chuck [Pagano] and Ryan [Grigson].”

Bruce Arians will always hold a special place in the hearts of Colts fans for that magical 2012 season, but he’s also a very successful and established NFL head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach. He’s had the chance to work with some brilliant young signal-callers, which makes his praise of Andrew Luck mean even more.