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

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 92 4th Qtr 3:03
Denver 92
Indiana 95 4th Qtr 0:49
LA Clippers 99
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 52 2nd Half 3:19
Oregon 76
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

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