Yesterday, we discussed how Colts quarterback Andrew Luck isn’t really getting much recognition this offseason for his play in 2016 and is actually being underrated, but thankfully this morning he got some credit from NFL Network’s Elliot Harrison.
Harrison ranked his top five MVP candidates in the AFC for 2017, and Luck made the list at number five. Here’s what Harrison said:
“I know everyone keeps talking about the shoulder, I heard you guys talk about it, let me just remind you: it’s mid-June. It’s mid-June. And I think with all the focus on Marcus Mariota and the surging Titans, and the Jags defense, and the Texans always winning - people are forgetting about Andrew Luck a little bit. And I bet you the guy is sitting there going, ‘ok, now they’ve given me some help on the defensive side of the ball. First three picks all defensive players, safety, corner, defensive end, no Phillip Dorsetts. No hitting offense when they didn’t need to hit offense. That’s why I think Andrew Luck has a shot. And I still don’t think the AFC South is strong.”
A bit later, Harrison added this:
“You’ve heard me say rising tide raises all boats, right? If the other Colts play up to the level of Andrew Luck, he’s already put up the numbers to be an MVP, he just needs help on the defensive side of the ball.”
For comparison’s sake, Luck ranks behind Tom Brady (1), Derek Carr (2), Antonio Brown (3), and Khalil Mack (4) on Harrison’s list of MVP candidates from the AFC.
I think there are a couple of things that are worth pointing out in this discussion. First, Elliot is exactly right when he said that Luck has already put up MVP numbers - in other words, that he’s already been good enough to be the MVP. Such as in 2016, when he completed 63.5% of his passes for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns against 13 picks for a 96.4 passer rating; or in 2014, when he completed 61.7% of his passes for 4,761 yards and 40 scores against 16 picks for a 96.5 passer rating. He has certainly been very good already.
Second, while Harrison is exactly right in what he said, it highlights something that is a strange criteria for the award. Notice what Harrison was talking about: it wasn’t about whether Luck was good enough to win the MVP, it was about whether the team was good enough for Luck to win the MVP. This isn’t a team award, so why does it matter if the Colts have improved and given Luck enough help? In fact, isn’t there a case to be made that Luck is more valuable if playing well on a poor team? Harrison isn’t wrong to bring that into the discussion because in the NFL a player isn’t truly considered that valuable until his team does great. In one sense, that’s understandable: how can a player be the most valuable if his team still doesn’t win? But in another sense, it’s strange: why does a team’s performance help determine an individual award? Basically, the point is that the Colts have to be good enough to at least be a playoff team in order for Luck to seriously be in the MVP conversation.
And third, Luck deserves to be in the MVP conversation entering 2017. Assuming he keeps up the same level of play he was at in 2016 and assuming the Colts contend for a playoff spot, Luck should be prominently in the mix for the award at the end of the year. So suggesting that he’s an MVP candidate now isn’t ridiculous at all, and it actually makes sense.