Colts' rookie Luck is no beginner

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2012 - 3:17 AM

The Vikings face a rookie QB on Sunday who, despite a rough debut, is mature beyond his years.

He absorbed his beating in a debut performance that ushered in a new era of anticipation, promise and hope. ¶All of that mattered little to Andrew Luck as he shared hugs and a few quiet moments alone with family members in Soldier Field last Sunday. In his NFL baptism, the Colts' presumed savior passed for 309 yards and one touchdown in a 20-point loss to the Chicago Bears. But too many bad reads and errant throws -- and three interceptions and a lost fumble -- resulted in a subpar 52.9 quarterback rating.

The Bears also sacked him three times, thumped him on a half-dozen dropbacks and chased him around the pocket with constant pressure.

Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Luck.

"Not too many fond memories, I think, of an opening loss," he said.

The Colts hope for better days for a rookie quarterback they tapped to succeed future Hall of Famer and Hoosier State legend Peyton Manning. Luck is the foundation for an organizational rebuild that commenced with a painful decision to cut ties with an aging and injured Manning after many wonderful years.

The once-in-a-generation quarterback from Stanford was blessed with too much talent, character and intangibles to pass up with the No. 1 overall pick, making it easier to release Manning.

"I know I've taken a lot of flak from some of my fellow owners to go from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "That's a hard one to figure out how that would ever have happened, because initially you just don't have that chance to really get a player with so much potential and so many strong attributes. Our goal is to make sure we nurture him so when you get two, and three, and five years down the road that you've really developed a period of greatness for a decade or more."

That process continues Sunday with Luck's home debut against a Vikings defense that gave up 260 passing yards and two touchdowns to Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert last week. The Vikings secondary remains susceptible to big plays, and the entire defense struggled on third down, allowing the Jaguars to convert nine of 18 opportunities. The Vikings could dominate the Colts' ragtag offensive line, but the speed of an NFL game is no longer a mystery to Luck.

"Now I don't have to worry about the unknowns of playing your first regular-season game again," he said.

Big footsteps

Luck seems suited to follow in Manning's legacy, and not just in terms of his talent, though that's a necessary starting point. He's also smart, endearingly humble and secure enough in his own ability to handle the pressure.

"I realized you could go crazy just trying to measure yourself to Peyton Manning every day," he said. "I don't think that would be a sane way to live. I know his legendary status, and he was my hero growing up. If one day I can be mentioned alongside Peyton as one of the quarterback greats, that would be a football dream come true."

That's the expectation. Fans of NFL bottom-feeders spent last season championing a lose-for-Luck campaign, openly rooting for lousy football if the payoff meant a shot at Luck. His career arc seems preordained, even with the unpredictable nature of the quarterback position.

Twelve quarterbacks have been taken No. 1 overall since 1998, when Manning was the Colts' selection. Those 12 have ranged from stars (Manning, his brother Eli, Michael Vick, Cam Newton); to valuable starters (Matthew Stafford, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer); to backups (David Carr); to give-'em-time (Luck, Sam Bradford); to busts (Tim Couch, JaMarcus Russell).

"He doesn't need anybody to hold him by the hand," Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson said. "He is ready, as he is mature beyond his years. He's ready to embark on this challenge in the truest sense of the word."

Balanced life

Luck, son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, spent his formative years living in Europe as his father climbed the ladder as a sports executive, including a stint as president and CEO of NFL Europe. Andrew fell in love with European culture, architecture and soccer.

"I'm sure it shaped him," said Oliver, now athletic director at West Virginia University. "Probably made him a little bit more open-minded and tolerant and realize there are lots of different types of people out there in the world."

Luck was co-valedictorian at Stratford High School in Houston and majored in architectural design at Stanford. He speaks German and prefers to talk history, travel and politics instead of football with his dad. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, he noted that he still uses a flip phone and has an aversion to social media -- but is not a "Luddite."

"I have a deep appreciation for technology," Luck said, "but I just choose to have a regular phone."

He's anything but regular as a quarterback. He possesses prototype size (6-4, 234 pounds), arm strength and accuracy. His pocket presence allows him to avoid pressure with slide steps. And Stanford coaches felt so comfortable with Luck's command of their offense that they allowed him to call his own plays at the line, a rarity in college football.

He completed 67 percent of his passes for 9,430 yards and 82 touchdowns with only 22 interceptions at Stanford, winning 31 games in 38 starts.

Fitting in

The Colts' choice was easy, and they are delighted with the way Luck has ingratiated himself with teammates while also accepting the fact he's the face of the entire operation.

"He wants to be treated just like the rest of the 53 guys on the final roster," Irsay said. "You love to see that."

Now, Luck must navigate a learning phase. The game is much faster, defenses more complex. Throwing lanes are tighter and he must master what he describes as a "breadth of protections" to handle blitz packages. And the Colts need drastic upgrades in talent everywhere.

On Sunday, Luck underthrew receiver Donnie Avery and was intercepted on a deep pass down the sideline after he incorrectly thought it was a free play because of a Bears offsides penalty -- that never was called.

"I realized I should never assume anything in this league," he said.

Lesson learned. More will follow, but the Colts are confident he can adapt.

"I've never been around a guy who can learn that fast," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "He just gets it."

His teammates recognize it as well.

"Nothing is too big for him," veteran receiver Reggie Wayne said. "They're putting a lot on his shoulders and he's taking it all in. He's ahead of the curve. He is who they say he is."

That might be the best compliment of all. Luck walked into a delicate situation, a No. 1 overall draft pick replacing a legend. He was on a pedestal before taking his first snap. He has handled it with aplomb.

"He's not trying to be somebody that he's not," backup quarterback Drew Stanton said. "That's a testament to him understanding at such a young age that he doesn't have to come in here and try and fill those shoes and be the No. 1 overall pick, all those things. His approach and how he was raised allows him to be who he is."

  • related content

  • Chart: Rookie QBs in Week 1

    Saturday September 15, 2012

    ROOKIE QBS IN WEEK 1: ONE WIN, FOUR LOSSESNFL QB rank, player Draft pos., college Result Statistics1. Robert Griffin, Redskins 2nd, Baylor W at New...

  • The call: Vikings vs. Indianapolis

    Sunday September 16, 2012

    Now this young team gets a legitimate chance to win on the road

  • Wiederer: Peterson gleefully defies odds in recovery

    Saturday September 15, 2012

    His performance against the Jaguars was simply mind-boggling -- even by the running back's outsized standards.

  • Souhan: For the best show, leave it to these QBs

    Sunday September 16, 2012

    Some have savvy, some have swagger, some have freakish ability. Some have all of the above. They are the QBs worth the price of admission.

  • Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 10 3rd Qtr 9:45
Pittsburgh 20
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 107 FINAL
Dallas 112
New York 45 3rd Qtr 7:11
Portland 62
Toronto 60 3rd Qtr
Denver 54
Phoenix 47 2nd Qtr 3:13
LA Lakers 53
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 3rd Prd 4:57
Anaheim 1
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
NJIT 71 FINAL
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
UMKC 73 FINAL
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
UMBC 55
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
UCLA 50 FINAL
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 62 FINAL
Washington 57
Buffalo 56 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
CS-Bakersfield 13 1st Half 11:34
California 3
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
UCLA 67
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 55 2nd Half 0:24
Memphis 51

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close