Moore is sold on Luck
(By Bob Kravitz)
I trust Tom Moore.
So when the terminally understated former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator is throwing around glowing compliments, I pay close attention.
Today, he is talking about Andrew Luck.
"It's really none of my business who people take in the draft, but personally, would I take him first? Yes, I'd take him first and no looking back," Moore said from his South Carolina home. "That's no reflection on anybody else, but that's what I would do.
"To me, he's the real deal. He's extremely intelligent. He was placed in a high-power, first-class program. He was very productive -- very, very dedicated to the game. Comes from a football family. He'll always be in shape, always be prepared, he'll always be willing to work. He's very aware of the game as far as coverages, protection, blitzes and things like that. And the big thing is, he not only has the ability but he's willing to work.
"You get around professional athletes and they all talk about wanting to be good. But are you really willing to do those things you need to do to be good? And he's one of those guys who will do anything to be great. He's a guy you never have to worry about. He'll always go the extra mile."
Take the classroom sessions with Moore as an example. A couple of months ago, he got a call from Andrew Luck's father, Oliver, himself a former NFL quarterback, asking the self-styled "unemployed" former offensive coordinator to spend some time in the classroom with his son, the prohibitive No. 1 overall draft choice by the Colts. The pair worked together for 3-4 hours a day, five days a week, for three weeks.
Why would the Lucks do this? What did Luck have to gain when he knew he had the No. 1 spot locked up? Nothing, really.
It was just a chance to get better, and to learn from one of the greatest offensive minds the game has known.
"We had old NFL tapes of different teams, and I'd stop the tape and say, 'OK, you're at the line of scrimmage, you see the defense doing this, this and this. What are you thinking?' We'd go over the possibilities, what you should do, what you can't do," Moore said. "Maybe we would do that on a Monday, then on a Friday, I'd do it again and stop the tape, 'OK, what do we want to do here?' And he'd tell me, 'We want to look at this and this.' He had great application and recall from what we'd studied earlier. It's instantaneous."
Moore knew the comparison-to-Peyton Manning questions would come, and he was insistent he wouldn't go there.
But Luck and Manning share too many characteristics to ignore. Both are crazy smart; you don't graduate on time from Stanford with a high GPA in architectural engineering by being a dope. Both come from football families, both with dads who played quarterback in the NFL. Both stayed in school an extra year when they were viewed as the No. 1 pick. Both finished second in the Heisman voting.
Luck and Moore did talk about Manning, how he prepared.
"It's been well-chronicled how Peyton and I used to look at tape in the offseason and go over every play," Moore said. "I think Andrew is a guy, like Peyton, who can be very critical of himself. One of the big things to me that makes the great ones even greater is a willingness to work on things they know they need to work on.
"Some guys like to work on only the things they do well, because it makes them feel good. It's like golf. You want to practice hitting the clubs you hit well instead of the ones you don't. But the only way to reach greatness is to be self-critical and know, 'These are the things I need to be better at.' "
The one thing Moore and the coaches can't fully prepare Luck to face is the pressure he will encounter. He's The Guy Who Replaced Peyton Manning. He's got massive shoes to fill.
It's not unlike Steve Young stepping in for the traded Joe Montana. Manning, like Montana, was closer to the end than the beginning. Young, like Luck, was largely unproven in the pro game. But there was the sense Montana still had some good years, as we hope will be the case for Manning.
Some never quite forgave Young for taking Montana's place, and some, the dimmest among fans, will never forgive Luck for being available the minute Manning walked out the door.
There is every reason to believe, though, that this young man can handle it.
"Believe me, he'll be fine," Moore said. "He's a class kid all the way. He'll be able to handle the pressure. He'll handle the ups and downs that go with it. He knows there are going to be growing pains. That comes with being a rookie quarterback in the NFL. But he's very, very mature for his age."
Moore saw Manning as a 22-year-old fresh out of college and loved what he saw. Now he sees a 22-year-old Luck fresh out of college, and loves what he sees there, too.
I trust Tom Moore's judgment.