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

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 101 4th Qtr 0:20
Utah 96
Sacramento 51 3rd Qtr 8:57
LA Lakers 57
Denver 41 2nd Qtr 5:26
Golden State 50
Portland 51 2nd Qtr 2:30
LA Clippers 36
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 3rd Prd 2:53
Colorado 6
Carolina 2 3rd Prd 16:20
Edmonton 2
Columbus 1 2nd Prd 3:32
Anaheim 3
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 23 3rd Qtr 6:00
Boise State 48
(6) Oregon 31 2nd Qtr 8:52
California 14
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 8:02
Calgary 15
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close