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Analyzing Andrew Luck’s weapons throughout his career

Andrew Luck is an elite NFL quarterback, what is most surprising about this is the lack of weapons he had during his career.

Divisional Round - Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Andrew Luck has played at an elite level, when healthy, during his entire career. Before he was putting up 30+ touchdown seasons, Luck excelled at being one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the NFL, and once he got accustomed to the League, his numbers skyrocketed.

The best quality about Luck is how he seems to be able to make things work without as many weapons as the other elite quarterbacks in the League. If you take a look at the other top-notch quarterbacks, they always seem to have at least two or three above-average pass catchers, while Luck rarely had two. Say for example, Mahomes had Hill, Kelce, Hunt (before the suspension) and Watkins; Rodgers had guys like Adams, Nelson, Graham, and Cobb; Goff has Cooks, Gurley, Woods, and Kupp and even Deshaun Watson has Hopkins, arguably the best receiver in the NFL.

Andrew Luck’s receivers through the years

2012 Receptions Yards Touchdowns
2012 Receptions Yards Touchdowns
Reggie Wayne 106 1355 5
Donnie Avery 60 781 3
T.Y Hilton 50 861 7
Dwayne Allen 45 521 3
T.Y Hilton 82 1083 5
Coby Fleener 52 608 4
Reggie Wayne 38 503 2
Darrius Heyward-Bey 29 309 1
T.Y Hilton 82 1345 7
Reggie Wayne 64 779 2
Coby Fleener 51 774 8
Ahmad Bradshaw 38 300 6
T.Y Hilton 91 1448 6
Jack Doyle 59 584 5
Frank Gore 38 277 4
Dwayne Allen 35 406 6
T.Y Hilton 76 1270 6
Eric Ebron 66 750 13
Nyheim Hines 63 425 2
Chester Rogers 53 485 2

Luck did have a solid supporting cast in his first two seasons in the NFL. Wayne was an ageless wonder, posting a 106/1355/5 line at 34 years old. That same season, Luck also had Donnie Avery, who enjoyed a respectable season with Luck throwing the ball to him, and also a rookie T.Y Hilton who exploded onto the scene.

In his second season, he lost Avery, but Fleener developed into the vertical-threat he was supposed to be out of college. It is also worth mentioning this is the season where Reggie tore his ACL, and, at 35 years old, he never truly recovered. Wayne’s injury marked the last time the Colts had a true #2 receiver.

In year 3, Luck truly made the leap and asserted himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, throwing for 40 touchdowns. That season, Luck had T.Y, already established as a premier NFL receiver, a much more polished Coby Fleener and a hobbled Reggie Wayne on his final legs. For his first 3 years, Luck never enjoyed the luxury of an established rushing attack behind him. The Colts offense was extremely one-sided, and the offensive line was porous.

After taking an absurd amount of hits, Luck’s body ended up crumbling, and he missed most of the 2015 season with a kidney and shoulder injury.

He returned for the 2016 and posted another great season, but the Colts failed to make the playoffs when Luck played 15 or more games for the first time in his career. Yet again Luck did not have a true #2 receiver and the offensive line appeared to be allergic to blocking, allowing 41 sacks, an absurd 7.6% sack rate.

Predictably, history repeated itself: After being beaten up throughout the course of the 2016 season, Luck was unable to play a single game in 2017, as a result of one of the strangest injuries in Colts’ history.

Luck returned for the 2018 season with plenty of questions about his shoulder, and whether or not his body could hold up after having not played for over two years. He quickly dispelled such chatter, posting his best and most efficient season to date, with 39 scores, 15 interceptions, 4593 yards and a career high 67.3% completion rate. Also, Luck finally got a great general manager, who put one of the best offensive lines in the NFL in front of him. Luck was only sacked 18 times (best in the NFL) and played all 16 games.

The true question here is: If Luck managed to accomplish all that he has done without a true supporting cast, what will he able to do if given weapons? It would not be surprising if he posts even better numbers than those of Mahomes. Luck could even break a few franchise records. With the offensive line problem already more than fixed, the Colts should desperately try to find Luck a true #2 receiver, either in the draft, as this is one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory, or via trade, aiming for available targets such as Mohamed Sanu or Nelson Agholor for example. I trust Ballard to give Luck his best supporting cast in his career as he is entering his prime.