It can be easy to forget just how good Andrew Luck was in 2016, especially because all of the talk this offseason has been about how bad the team is and what work still needs to be done.
But if we take a step back, it’s clear that at the most important position in football, the Colts are set. Andrew Luck is terrific, and his 2016 season proved that his injury-plagued 2015 campaign was simply an aberration. Pro Football Focus realizes that as well, as they listed him as their most improved quarterback in 2016, improving from a 45.1 grade in 2015 to a 92.4 grade in 2016:
Since 2013, Luck has ranked ninth, fifth, 37th, and fourth in PFF grades among QBs. In his 2015 season, he was plagued by injury, missing the first two games of his career (shoulder) before going down with a lacerated kidney and a partially-torn abdominal muscle. In 2016, Luck recorded a 112 QB rating (fifth) when throwing from a clean pocket. For perspective, this number dropped to 91.9 (29th) in 2015. He is elite when healthy, ensuring his place on the list because of an outlier season.
Obviously the improvement part simply means which player took the biggest leap from 2015 to 2016 in PFF’s grades, because Luck was very good before the 2015 season too. In fact, as PFF pointed out, Luck has been a top-ten quarterback in their grading system in three of the last four years, with the only exception being that terrible injury-plagued season in 2015. Luck missed two games with a shoulder injury and then the final seven games of the year with a lacerated kidney, and this offseason Luck had surgery to fix a shoulder issue that dated back to 2015. So he was really beat up, and his play on-the-field showed that. The 2016 season was going to be a big one for him, then, to prove that the struggles the previous season were mainly because of those injuries, and he succeeded in doing that.
Luck started 15 games and completed a career-high 63.5% of his passes for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns with 13 interceptions for a passer rating of 96.4. He also added 341 yards and two touchdowns rushing while averaging 5.3 yards per rush.
That’s the most encouraging thing for the Colts right now: their franchise quarterback was back and better than ever in 2016, bouncing back expertly from injuries the year before. That was obvious to everyone who watched him play last year, and PFF’s grading system backed it up as they listed him as the most improved quarterback from 2015 to 2016.