Just as Andrew Luck did in his first four games of the season, he follows up with another 8 touchdown passes in the second quarter of the season. Despite throwing one less interception and nearly the same amount of yards (1147 yards first quarter, 1137 yards second quarter) the Colts were still just 2-2 in this four-game stretch.
On the other hand, Luck did his work in the first four games on 166 attempts. He was significantly more efficient through this portion of the year with 145 attempts improving both his touchdown, and interception percentages. But, that wasn’t it. Luck also bumped up his completion rate from 62 percent in the first quarter of the season to 65.5 percent through the games we’re about to watch together.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into Lucks 8 touchdowns between Weeks 5 through 8.
Week 5 Vs Chicago Bears | No. 1
There’s not a lot of guessing into what made this play successful. Luck sells the play fake, the linebackers bite and Dwayne Allen is all by himself in the back of the end zone. On the other hand, when you consider that the Colts were at a first-and-goal from the 5 yard line only a few plays earlier, and that this play took place on fourth down it livens it up a bit.
Additionally, the Colts were tied with the Chicago Bears at 3 apiece and Chuck Pagano decided to go for it. Not something we’ve seen from the Colts all that often, even in these situations. The Bears clearly felt Frank Gore was going to get the ball (they clearly have watched their fair share of Colts film over the past few seasons) and Luck sold it well. Chicago sold out on this and left Allen all alone.
Week 5 Vs Chicago Bears | No. 2
This one is a bit more fun to break down, and shows just how smart Luck is pre-snap. Now, you don’t see much of it in this clip, but from the time Luck brings the offense up to the line he sees the Bears’ overload to the right side of his line. He repositions Gore, calls Phillip Dorsett in to a tighter alignment and the Bears didn’t respond.
It’s not a big bump, but the reason Luck moved Gore and Dorsett was due to the fact that Willie Young was lined up there and he’d had his way with the Colts racking up 3 sacks. Dorsett chips him and continues through his route, then Gore gets another chip on him and does the same. This gives Luck enough time to step up a bit into the pocket before going downfield.
The route combination used with Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton isn’t anything unique, but it does work to perfection. As you can see the safety follows Doyle into the second level of the zone, which opens up Hilton win deep beating man coverage. Anthony Castonzo is left alone and nearly gets beat before Luck can get the ball off, but all is well that ends well.
This was one of my favorite Luck plays all season from huddle to catch. Excellent recognition.
Week 6 @ Houston Texans
There’s always got to be one of these that doesn’t come through on the all-22 apparently. Anyhow, this one also looks pretty simple to explain. What’s not so simple is the throw into that much zone coverage across the middle.
The Texans’ only man up on Hilton here and drop everyone else. The problem, for them, is that the linebackers don’t drop nearly fast enough and the safety drops too far into the end zone. With Chester Rogers coming back across the middle at 5 yards deep, Hilton is simply going vertical to run off his coverage and it works.
My assumption from this angle is that the safety to Hilton’s side was there to offer some help deep and that’s why Luck decided on hitting Doyle sooner rather than later. I still can’t figure out why Dorsett is running a post so close to Doyle on this, however, Luck’s quick release once he sees he can drop it in between the second and third levels of the defense is what seals this play.
This is a dime no matter how remedial it may look to us.
Week 7 @ Tennessee Titans | No. 1
Despite the awful looking play action on this play, it almost works to the benefit of the Colts here. Luck is smart enough to keep the ball low, hiding it from the linebackers, and Gore does a nice job with his route through the hole as he attempts to get open.
As a result the linebackers don’t know whether to come up and stop the run, try to wait for Gore to cover him on a route or to rush Luck. Because nothing comes of the route combination with Hilton and Rogers at the bottom of the screen, Luck has to be patient with Doyle and Castonzo holding the edge against the rush.
Luck actually had two options here and he chose correctly. Gore and Dorsett (top of the screen) open up simultaneously and could have both been able to secure an easy touchdown pass. But, as we often say, Luck has to take the easy stuff and here he did just that. No need to make the longer throw, with the one caveat that if he did see, and throw to Dorsett, there would have been fewer hands in the way of the pass.
Week 7 @ Tennessee Titans | No. 2
It really doesn’t get any prettier than this. Rogers is coming in motion, and right away you can see it effect the defense. The middle linebacker, whose assignment is Gore, gets completely out of line here. The line doesn’t do a great job with only four rushing defensive linemen, but they hold them off nevertheless.
The real door opening comes further downfield past the trash in the middle of the field. Devin Street runs a 12-yard crossing route which takes his coverage with him, but it’s the safety – who has deepest route responsibilities – that blows this. Instead of dropping further, he gets interested in Street coming across and gets himself out of position.
This allows Hilton, who already has his coverage beat, to go unchecked tracking the ball into the end zone. This ball could not have been put in a better spot for the catch – right on the hands perfectly.
Week 7 @ Tennessee Titans | No. 3
Another red zone touchdown from Luck to Doyle. Let’s hope we see more of these in 2017. These two have such great chemistry and timing, and is only rivaled by that of Luck and Hilton’s. I really like the route concept to the top of the screen with Hilton running a corner route with Street coming underneath.
Doyle’s route though is phenomenal. I can almost hear Chris Berman now….WHOOP! I mean, just watch the linebacker.
Luck rides a fine line here in his drop and the rush off the edges nearly gets home. If Luck climbs the pocket here as the rush approaches he doesn’t get touched, however, if he does the timing on the throw to Doyle may be disrupted as well.
Additionally, I think Doyle is Luck’s only option here. On the release, the defense likely gets to Hilton and Street only appears open because his coverage reacts to the throw to Doyle. Robert Turbin and don’t get anywhere near open in their route combination either.
Perfect route, perfect throw. However, Luck needs more options to develop this year through play design. If Doyle doesn’t get open here, Luck is forced to beat feet.
Week 8 Vs Kansas City Chiefs | No. 1
Again, I like the route concept to the top of the screen. Dorsett and Moncrief get open and a case could be made that Doyle is open as well. At the snap, it appears as though Luck is set on trying to get Erik Swoope in a one-on-one opportunity. It’s not worth a 50/50 ball and Luck sees that immediately despite pumping almost immediately.
Once again, though, the edges are threatened and Castonzo is pushed back into Luck. Luck feels the pressure and decides to dump it off to Gore instead of waiting for Moncrief to open up in the corner of the end zone, or looking towards Dorsett on the 7-yard curl.
If the pressure didn’t force a quick throw here, theoretically, it looks as though Moncrief or Dorsett should have been the designed targets on second down. However, it’s pretty plain to see that Gore was more than capable of taking care of the rest after the catch as well.
Week 8 Vs Kansas City Chiefs | No. 2
So, let’s just say Luck is lucky to have not become road kill here. Whoever you want to blame this offensive line gaffe on, go for it. Ryan Kelly is who I’m going with considering there’s no need to triple team any defensive lineman. However, Gore gives him the ole` too and Luck is forced to escape the pocket in a hurry.
Luck does a nice job of eluding the defender and shaking him off as he looks for someone to break open. It really doesn’t happen and Luck makes a smart decision here. On a first down attempt, he throws it high and hard to the longest receiver on the field where it either gets caught or hopefully doesn’t get tipped and goes out of bounds.
Moncrief reacts quickly enough to go after, and high point the ball and brings it down for the score. This is great escapability from Luck and equally great reactionary skills from Moncrief.
We again see some situations in which the play design is an issue with some of the route combinations as well as the offensive line breaking down on the edges too often. I expect we’ll continue to see these as the season progresses even more, but we also have to keep in mind that not all plays – even those that end in touchdowns – are executed perfectly.
This often makes it difficult to place any blame, but it’s pretty easy to see when Luck is great and how he has the ability to take over a game in an instant. We’re pretty fortunate to be watching another potential great all-time quarterback work through his kinks and make plays for our Colts.
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