[Editor’s note: Emmy-nominated reporter Michele Tafoya, a key member of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, interviewed by phone long-time NFL coach Tom Moore regarding his recent work with quarterback Andrew Luck. Her article regarding the Tuesday interview appears below, as a guest submission to PFT.]
If any Colts fans are still wondering whether Andrew Luck is the right quarterback to lead Indianapolis into the post-Peyton Manning era, those concerns can be addressed by one of Manning’s most important mentors. Tom Moore, the offensive coordinator who oversaw Manning’s record-setting career from 1998 though 2010, became Luck’s football tutor shortly after the 2011 NFL season concluded.
Luck’s father, Oliver, played quarterback for the Houston Oilers from 1982 through 1986. A Rhodes scholar finalist in 1981 who later served as President and CEO of NFL Europe, Oliver Luck asked Moore to work with Andrew in a one-on-one classroom setting while Andrew was preparing for the Scouting Combine.
For three weeks, Moore and Andrew Luck spent three-to-four hours per day studying film and reviewing protections, coverages, blitz recognition, and more.
I spoke exclusively with Moore about his time with Luck. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
MT: So what was your overall impression of Luck?
MOORE: He’s the real deal. If you draft him you never have to worry about anything. You know he’ll be prepared. You know he’ll be in shape. You know he’ll study. You know he’ll practice hard. You won’t have to worry about anything. And you’ll know he’s going to go home and spend two-to-three more hours working on what you talked about.
MT: What does he have going for him that others don’t?
MOORE: Number one, he’s very intelligent. He’s extremely intelligent. Second, he’s from a football family. In the classroom, he has the things you’re looking for. He has recall. You go over something on Monday, and on Friday when you put in the tapes he has instant recall. If I was still coaching I’d love to have him because he can do the things I like to do: audibles at the line of scrimmage; no-huddle. He has a great awareness of what’s happening.
MT: How soon do you think he could become an NFL starting quarterback?
MOORE: The first day of the first practice. That’s what we did with Peyton. I told Kelly Holcomb, “Go stand behind me. Peyton’s taking the snaps.”
MT: What about reports that the Colts are considering signing Byron Leftwich to mentor Luck?
MOORE: Andrew Luck doesn’t need a mentor. I’ve never bought into the theory that you learn by watching. I think all that stuff is really overrated. Is he going to make mistakes? Yeah, who hasn’t? But I know Andrew’s a strong enough person that he’s going to handle the comparisons [to Manning], and he’ll handle it perfect.
MT: What do you make of the reports that the Colts are considering taking Robert Griffin III with the top pick?
MOORE: This kid [Luck] is the first pick in the first round and there’s no question about it. I would draft him and I would never look back.
MT: How do you envision him taking command of an NFL huddle as a rookie?
MOORE: He has no qualms or questions about his convictions and what he sees and what he thinks should be done [on the field]. So when he gets in the huddle he’s gonna take control.
MT: I know it’s not fair to compare Andrew Luck to Peyton Manning, but it sounds like they share a lot of the same characteristics.
MOORE: Andrew’s special. And I thought Peyton was special. A lot of people want to be good. But do they want to do what they have to do to be good. There is no doubt in my mind that Andrew is willing to do what it takes. God gave him the ability to do it.
MT: How do you think Luck will fit in with what Bruce Arians will do as the Colts offensive coordinator?
MOORE: I know Bruce, and I think it’ll be a great fit. Bruce is an excellent coach. Bruce is the type of coach that’ll do what is good for Andrew. As a coach, your job is to give a guy the chance to be the best he can be. To take advantage of what his skills and strengths are. Bruce has had great success and will design things to take advantage of Andrew’s skills.
MT: Final thoughts?
MOORE: [Luck] fired me up when I was out there [working with him]. I was thinking, ‘Would I love to have an opportunity to coach this kid!’ He’s what you want. And he got [former U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice to autograph my copy of her book.”