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Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

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  • Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

    The link has videos, links and pictures. If a mod feels that this belongs under one of the other threads, feel free to move it.

    I have a difficult time with Andrew Luck.

    The super-rookie keeps churning out one unforgettable win after another, yet I struggle to know how to react.

    I hope you'll forgive me as I break the proverbial fourth-wall and speak to you directly for a moment. It's unprofessional, and I wouldn't normally impose, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Luck has elicited a crisis for me personally.

    1-10-IND 25 (1:07) (Shotgun) 12-A.Luck scrambles up the middle to IND 34 for 9 yards (90-N.Suh).

    On this play, Luck actually bounces off a lineman and spins for additional yardage. It's easy to forget how big and fast he is until someone hits him.

    Hilariously, Bruce Arians complained about this play after the game.
    I didnít like him taking off on first down. I thought we wasted too much time. At that point in time weíre playing the clock, not the Lions, and you donít run and they end up a yard short or half a yard short but we canít run for a first down at this point in time.


    Ever since I began covering the AFC South professionally, I've worked hard to keep my personal feelings and rooting interests in check.

    It's surprisingly easy, actually.

    Most readers don't realize that when you cover something as a job, your point of view changes. I care far more about being right, being accurate and being entertaining and educational than I do advocating a partisan view point.

    I understand the natural distrust some readers have of me because of my self-appointed position as Peyton Manning's unofficial attack dog.

    In many ways Manning's departure from Indianapolis made this a perfect time for me to transition. While it's true that I am very much a Colts fan, I felt no attachment to the players, coaches or front office after the great purge.

    3-1-IND 34 (:52) (Shotgun) 12-A.Luck pass deep left to 87-R.Wayne to DET 40 for 26 yards (26-L.Delmas).

    Luck has to place the ball just over the linebacker and in front of the safety nearly 30 yards downfield with the game on the line.

    He drops it perfectly into Reggie Wayne's hands.

    After the game, Wayne said,
    We was on the sideline saying that man we need some big chunks. We need some big chunks. Somebody just make a play. I guess youíre never out of it until itís all over and guys just kept pushing and pushing. It was ugly. It was terrible. But we find a way to win.


    I approached Andrew Luck's arrival with a blank slate. Though I was (and always will be) a "Manning-guy", I had been writing for six months that the Colts would be justified to part ways with Manning and draft Luck. However, my personal preference was (and honestly still is) that they had kept Manning and dealt the pick for Luck.

    When I first saw Luck up close in training camp, I was forced to recalibrate my expectations of who he was and what he could be. It was obvious from talking to him and watching him up close, that he was perhaps as close to a clone of Peyton Manning as you could get without forcing Archie and Olivia to continue procreating.

    There are some out there that have taken my often breathless praise for Luck as a sign of some kind of ridiculous home town bias. In reality, I've been doing everything I can to suppress what I actually think about his play, because honestly, I feared people would write it off if I was honest.

    After what happened in Detroit, however, the time for reserve has passed.

    2-10-DET 40 (:37) (Shotgun) 12-A.Luck scrambles right end ran ob at DET 24 for 16 yards (21-J.Lacey).

    At this point, one bad play ends the game, and as it had all day, the protection broke down for Luck.

    He sprinted to his right, still looking to make a throw. When it wasn't there, he accelerated all the way inside the 30.

    Arians said after the game:
    I thought Andrew (Luck) was outstanding in the last drive especially overcoming some poor plays early in the game that weíve still got to rectify on the road. But we found a way to win a big ball game on the road against a very quality opponent. Donít care about the stats. The only stat that matters is No. 8 (wins). Weíve got a fighting bunch of guys and weíve got a fighting coach at home.


    My struggle is this...

    As a historian, and that's how I primarily consider myself when it comes to the Colts, I want to place Luck in context as accurately as possible. The friend of the historian is time, but it's not on my side when trying to crystallize the meaning of Luck in today's rapid-fire world.

    As a writer, I want to describe his play as accurately as possible. That's why I've mostly relied on stats to defend my position that his play is unparallelled, even in a season of incredible rookie performances by Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Because I respect stats, however, I don't get bent out of shape when others argue against Luck. There are lots of numbers to support the other players, and Luck's require a degree of nuance to understand.

    As a fan, I marvel at Luck, but honestly, I would rather be watching Manning have another MVP season. If he were in Indianapolis, the team would be at least 8-4, probably 9-3 or 10-2.

    2-10-DET 24 (:24) (Shotgun) 12-A.Luck pass short left to 83-D.Allen ran ob at DET 14 for 10 yards (21-J.Lacey).

    Luck again avoids a hit, steps up and finds Dwayne Allen.

    When the pass arrives, he's a yard short of the first down. He spins to the sidelines both getting out of bounds and getting the key first down that would give Indy four chances to win.

    It was a heady play by two rookies. Wayne said,
    Itís just young and donít know no better. Donít know any better, man. They just know to just keep playing, at the end of the game just see the way we fall out. Thatís a credit just to the coaches. Just keeping the guys into it, keeping them to play towards the end and guys just go out there and keep fighting and fighting till itís all over.


    With all those competing, but not mutually exclusive, forces driving my analysis, I've decided it's time cut loose and tell you all what I really think, filter-free.

    Andrew Luck is so ridiculously good there are times I'm honestly disturbed by it.

    As he marched his team down the field to a victory that was all but impossible, Luck transformed into the Kwisatz Haderach of football.

    Now, I've spent years railing about the inanity of "quarterback wins" and extolling the virtue of statistics. I'm not about to get heretical on you, but Luck is doing things that break all the conventional stats and models.

    He's reaching this place where his play has become almost unquantifiable by normal measures. That's why traditionally reliable metrics like YPA, completion percentage and passer rating are meaningless when describing a 23-year-old who runs an advanced downfield offense and excels at two-minute drives.

    To understand the value of Luck, you have two choices. First, you can rely on incomprehensible metrics that require an advanced degree to parse.

    Make no mistake, the evidence IS there for Luck. What he does can be captured, but not in the conventional ways most talking heads are familiar with.

    For once, however, stats aren't the best option. To understand what Luck is doing, you have to see him live.

    4-10-DET 14 (:03) (Shotgun) 12-A.Luck pass short right to 11-D.Avery for 14 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

    For a moment it looks like Luck will run for it, but he sees Donnie Avery at the last moment. Still behind the line, he flips to the veteran wideout, but doesn't stop running.

    He actually sprints alongside of Avery, looking for someone to block. Avery scores, and Luck runs over and picks up Wayne from behind before rushing to join a rag of Colts.

    On the last-ditch play, Luck found his fifth option. Arians described it like this:
    Yeah, he was No. 5. We had basically spread everybody across the back of the end zone and ran Donnie (Avery) across the field as an outlet. I was hoping heíd catch it a little closer to the goal line. But we knew theyíd sink everybody back in. And I actually thought the game was over on Reggieís incompletion. It was a great play by Andrew getting out of there, scanning the field. They were, all the receivers going left and Donnie was coming back right.


    Watching him on television simply isn't good enough.

    When you watch the Colts offense live and in person, you see what the replays rarely show.

    You see how rarely Luck has wide open receivers.

    You see how everyone is 15-20 yards downfield.

    You see how much Luck moves in the pocket on every throw because the line is falling apart.

    You see how quickly he processes information.

    I want to laugh when people get all serious and grave about Luck's interceptions. He's throwing the ball 50-60 times a game in a purely vertical offense with a bunch of rookies and a crappy line.

    You expect rookies to throw picks. You expect rookies to make bad reads. You expect rookies to have unrealistic expectations of their own ability to make a stick throw.

    You don't expect rookies do to any of the other things that Luck does.

    Counterfeit experts spend all their time studying real bills. They never bother to look at fakes.

    I've spent the last 12 years dissecting the play of Peyton Manning. I know the real thing when I see it. You can't fool someone who's seen the genuine article.

    Luck is actually better than the hype. I still get the sense like the numbers are getting in the way of people recognizing exactly how incredible he's playing. You'll still hear the occasional tongue-wagger spout nonsense about how good the Indianapolis defense is, or how some other quarterback doesn't have the weapons Luck has.

    I can say with the utmost confidence that Andrew Luck is right now one of the 10 best quarterbacks in football, and within a few years, he's going to be the best quarterback in football. He's still figuring it out, but you can see it happen for him on the fly.

    What Luck can be is the highest expression of this age of quarterback play. He will eventually have a roster around him that is competitive, and when that happens, the Colts could well embark on another decade-long run of winning.

    What is the meaning of Andrew Luck?


    Quotes courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts via press release.

  • #2
    Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

    Fun read. Much respect for this line:

    As he marched his team down the field to a victory that was all but impossible, Luck transformed into the Kwisatz Haderach of football.
    Take me out to the black, tell 'em I ain't coming back. Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me.


    • #3
      Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

      Could well embark....

      At can make the argument that the journey is already under way and well ahead of schedule


      • #4
        Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

        Excellent article. 'Nuff said.


        • #5
          Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

          It's Nate Dunlevy, he used to run before it merged with Colts Authority. Yes I'm a little embarrassed I know that.

          But seriously, he's a very good writer. Bleacher Report's still about 85% idiotic drivel but they really have brought in a stable of good writers across all sports the last year or so. The actual site is still disgustingly run though, but such is internet journalism.


          • #6
            Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

            Originally posted by Heisenberg View Post
            It's Nate Dunlevy, he used to run before it merged with Colts Authority. Yes I'm a little embarrassed I know that.

            But seriously, he's a very good writer. Bleacher Report's still about 85% idiotic drivel but they really have brought in a stable of good writers across all sports the last year or so. The actual site is still disgustingly run though, but such is internet journalism.

            I never read his blog much. I always read StampedeBlue though and BBS used to like to take petty shots at him.


            • #7
              Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

              Stampede Blue is a cesspool and has been for years.


              • #8
                Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

                That article could have been written by myself, it so exactly mirrors my thoughts on him. Excellent article. I was just thinking this the other day, that Luck is defying stats. He throws a few INTs and 50% completion rate, and I don't really worry about it at all. The style of ball he's playing, like the author noted, is not orthodox.

                Look at yesterday's game. He had almost 400 yards on 24 completions. Do people realize what that means? That's almost 17 yards per completion. He's throwing so far down the field, on every throw, that it's something we haven't seen in this league. THis is the opposite of a dink-and-dunk West Coast offense, but it's also not exactly a vertical Randall Cunningham type of offense where he's throwing bomb after bomb. It's something in between. Luck's "dinks and dunks" are 15-20 yards downfield.

                This changes everything... interceptions and completion percentage are less important, so to speak. You'd be concerned about % and interceptions if you were running a dink-and-dunk offense behind a power running game, because a low completion rate absolutely doesn't work in that type of offense. When you're only getting 3-4 yards per play, one missed throw ends your series.

                What becomes important are getting first downs... and maybe even more important, converting 3rd downs.

                Inexplicably --- Luck is fantastic at this. You'd think the opposite. Usually West coast dink-and-dunk is fantastic at converting 3rd downs. Long deep offenses are usually a lesser percentage, it's more "gambly", and you get good and bad.

                But Luck actually gets better in 3rd down situations, which defies logic. It's like.... the rules that apply to everyone else --- is opposite for him. When the pressure gets higher... when the defense tightens up, when everyone else starts to crumble and make mistakes --- he's going to a different place where he actually performs better. And gets better the higher the pressure, the worse the situation. He's done this without fail this year. If a game is anywhere within reach --- he scores. If he's been given the ball anywhere in the final 4 minutes of a half --- he's going to score. The less time to operate, the closer against the wire he gets --- the more he just hits that zone and makes plays.

                Doesn't matter how many passes he's completed up until that point... doesn't matter how many INTs he's thrown. He's going to march this rag-tag offense right down the field in the most unbelievable, most unorthodox way possible and put that damn ball in the end zone.

                The passer rating.. the lower completion rate... the INTs.... normally it's a big deal. But it's not with him. 1) Because you know he's still figuring things out and those WILL be reduced dramatically, eventually. And 2) because of his clutchness, he can (and will) find a way to win the game.

                You look at Russell Wilson, a fine young QB. He's won less games with a better team. Yea, he's been impressive... but the results are the results. His team has won less games, and it's a better team.

                RG3 --- yeah, he has a higher passer rating... he's thrown less INTs...

                But Luck. Five 4th-quarter comebacks. 8 wins in 12 games. His execution in the 2- and 4-minute drill. His execution in the clutch. The fact that this team is not good, despite what people want to think. It's not a good team. It's over-achieving to say the least. It's riding emotion and confidence and belief in an amazing quarterback, but the personel around Luck is *lacking* massively.

                When Luck gets a team around him, and Luck gets this league figured out, it's going to be a sight to behold.
                Last edited by Kid Minneapolis; 12-03-2012, 09:54 PM.
                There are two types of quarterbacks in the league: Those whom over time, the league figures out ... and those who figure out the league.


                • #9
                  Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

                  Originally posted by Heisenberg View Post
                  Stampede Blue is a cesspool and has been for years.

                  LOL. Yet I still find myself reading everyday. BBS has an ego the size of Texas, but I do respect the site as a valid compilation of Colts info.


                  • #10
                    Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

                    His demeanor is so amazing to me. He's absolutely the best player on the field, but he acts like one of the guys. Even a background guy, at that. Until he enters the huddle.

                    Even looking at the guy in street clothes, you wouldn't think he's a football player. He dons those unis and it's like some magical transformation occurred -- he's the most prototypical-looking football player I've ever seen in a uniform. How does that happen?

                    How does someone go from this:

                    to this

                    Is that second picture not a perfect portrait of Webster's definition of a football player?

                    You see him interact on the sideline in the locker room, he's still a guy trying to get comfortable, he's just one of the guys. Even Peyton conducted himself with an air of superiority, of leadership. Luck is just this guy on the team who wants to win really bad... but also be your bud.

                    Watching him dump that pass off to Avery and then sprint alongside him as if to throw a block or two, if needed --- absolutely insane to think about, but he didn't even look out of place doing so! I fully expected him to just lay a guy out to make a lane for Avery, and you know his oncoming presence had a factor in the defensive players minds. I LOVE seeing a quarterback that is not only willing to do that, but capable of it. 99% of them aren't capable, physically. Luck is built like a linebacker. I normally don't want my QB out there laying blocks... but with Luck I'm like.... "Do it! Lay that *****er out, man!"

                    He tucked the ball on that last drive or two, and started up field.... got broadsided by a lineman and then a second one, and just bowled his way past them 9 yards for a 1st down. This guy is a passer first and foremost, but when he wants to be, he just... changes. Instantly. He's a quarterback when he hikes it, but the pocket collapsed, and he instantly became a fullback in this moment here... on this play his receiver fumbled the ball, and a defender has scooped up the ball and is returning it --- Luck just became a linebacker and is closing in to make the tackle. It's amazing. He's taking man-shots from some of these massive men, and he just gets right back up like it was nothing. Goes out on the next play and makes a ridiculous completion for a first down.

                    Chasing down that guy on the pick 6.... saved the touchdown. They never scored a TD on a that series, despite having 1st and goal. It likely saved the game for us. The interception didn't put us in a good situation, but had it been a pick-6, our game was likely over.
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                    Last edited by Kid Minneapolis; 12-03-2012, 10:18 PM.
                    There are two types of quarterbacks in the league: Those whom over time, the league figures out ... and those who figure out the league.


                    • #11
                      Re: Surprisingly good Bleacher Report article on Andrew Luck

                      Originally posted by obnoxiousmodesty View Post
                      Fun read. Much respect for this line:
                      Kwisatz Haderach

                      I have never seen a Dune reference in any article about football before. Pretty funny.
                      For those who are not familiar this is a reference from Frank Herberts novel Dune.