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Breaking Down Andrew Luck’s 2016 Interceptions | Weeks 1-8

Taking a look back at Luck’s 2016 season, and how responsible he was for his interceptions.

NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

We are all aware of Andrew Luck’s offseason surgery and are hopeful that his rehab is reasonable and doesn’t hold any long term effects for the future of that $140 Million arm. Aside from healing, Luck also needs to get some of the more fundamental parts of the game figured out.

In fact, Doug Farrar did a fine job of breaking down some of Luck’s issues here, most notably about how he struggles to the wide side of the field as well as on short-yardage throws.

We have complained about those “WHAT THE..” throws he makes from time to time that appear to be going to nobody in particular — other than the defense. However, Luck also puts together long streaks of great throws, adding in a handful of spectacular passes that few other NFL quarterbacks can make.

One of the most regurgitated issues from the national media about Luck are those that paint a broad picture of his interception numbers, and how they’re too high. All interceptions are not created equal and there’s simply nothing that can be done when trying to convey it to those with a predisposition on the stat as the end-all be-all.

If we were to look solely at Luck in this regard, I guess you could make a good argument at your local watering hole. But looking at how his numbers compare to the rest of the league obviously gives more of a holistic view of what we’re seeing.

If you start with the fact that on throws between 0-15 yards downfield, Luck has a completion rate of 65.6 percent, it sounds pretty good until you learn that it’s only good enough for 24th amongst passers with at least 1,000 attempts since 2012. On the other hand, Luck has the 9th best touchdown/interception differential (+2.84) in that area and time span and last season had the 8th best quarterback rating among the league’s starters.

I don’t think we’ll change anybody’s mind here, and maybe we’ll learn a couple things ourselves. But, let’s take a look at each of Luck’s interceptions last season and see what we come across. We’ll look at the first half of the season today and follow up with the second half of the season later in the week.

WEEK 2 @ Denver Broncos

Week 2 @ Denver/NFL Media

While we could go on and on about how close the Colts were to pulling this game out, we’ll abstain for now. In this first play, on the surface we see three receivers all running the same route against a basic zone look. The question can be asked: What the heck were they hoping to accomplish with this route combination?

A third-down-and-15 play, Luck can’t find anyone open right away, Jack Doyle leaks out after initially blocking and is wide open. Yes, we acknowledge that this is a third down attempt, but at this point in the game the Colts are down only 3 at their own 35 yard line with nearly the entire fourth quarter left to play.

Instead of getting some easy yards by linking up with Doyle, and just hope for some yards after the catch, Luck chooses to go for high risk, low reward throw towards one of the best cover corners in the game. Bad decision and it cost the Colts an opportunity to flip the field against Trevor Siemian.

WEEK 3 Vs San Diego Chargers

Week 3 Vs SDG/NFL Media

Look there’s no mistaking that this is a very risky throw to begin with, but there’s a few things going on here. First and foremost, the line gets blown away at every level here. Chester Rogers can only possibly open for a split second on this route to begin with, and worse yet, the rush coming off the edge takes Joe Reitz by surprise after he initially follows the defensive lineman as he slants inside.

It’s a first down play, the Colts are inside of their own 30 yard line and here’s an example where Luck needs to take the sack to live for another play, or throw the ball at Dwayne Allen’s feet across the middle in order not to lose the 5 or 6 yards from a sack. This ball may have actually been tipped at the line of scrimmage, but it’s difficult to pick up the rotation on the ball to say for sure

WEEK 4 @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 4 @ Jacksonville/NFL Media

What do you do about this if you’re Luck? I literally timed this because someone will undoubtedly say “Luck hangs on to the ball too long.” From snap to attempt to throw is a grand total of 1.48 seconds. This was actually great design from the Jaguars and Dante Fowler was lightning quick coming from the outside to attack the middle of the Colts line.

Austin Blythe simply couldn’t keep up with that move and it was almost over before it started. Hard to pin this one on Luck.

WEEK 6 @ Houston Texans

Week 6 @ Houston/NFL Media

Here we at least see the line giving him some quality protection, and Luck take a look at Doyle coming out on a delayed flat route. However, Luck doesn’t see him create any space and decides to go to T.Y. Hilton across the middle.

I couldn’t get the all-22 angle to play on this particular play but, both, Rogers (at the top of the screen) and Phillip Dorsett (at the bottom) were completely covered going down the field vertically.

To the credit of Luck, Hilton should have cut his route off in front of the defender, but Robert Nelson defended the route perfectly and made a play somehow keeping the ball off the turf. Now, conversely, Luck probably should never have made this throw.

Normally i would say that Luck just floated the ball out there for anyone to catch, but he was dropping it in there slowly — trusting Hilton to come back to the ball. This wasn’t a good throw, and you can see the clock, down-and-distance as well as the score for yourself. Pull this one down Andrew and pick up what you can with your feet.

WEEK 8 Vs Kansas City Chiefs

Week 8 Vs KC/NFL Media

For our last clip of the first half of the 2016 season, we see Luck floating a ball to the boundary towards Moncrief. Every single time Luck throws one of these I feel like it’s going back to the house. He rarely puts enough power behind these throws and on this one in particular it appears that he got a little rattled soon after the snap.

Luck had enough protection on this first down attempt to wait for Allen to open up coming across the middle, then back out into the flats — or even Hilton on the 10 yard dig route. Instead he rushed his progression, throwing towards more coverage and pays for it. I don’t really think Moncrief helped Luck out any on this route, but the credit here needs to go to Phillip Gaines who basically ran the route for Moncrief.

The Colts were down only 3 points in this situation, were backed up on their own side of the field and were only 42 seconds from halftime. Even coming up with nothing from this drive and being forced to punt would have been a better option after coming out very stagnant early on in this game.

Looking Back:

Now, we’ve already seen some examples of Luck, the line and the receivers all at least in part at fault for some of these interceptions. Luck only had 5 in the first half of the season, so we’ve got another 8 to go through.

Just for fun I timed each of these from snap to release to see how long Luck was hanging on to the ball — on average, right at about 2.3 seconds. I’m no expert on times throughout the league, but that feels like a reasonable amount of time regardless of the outcome on the play.

Stay tuned for the second half of the season.