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NFL morning after: Andrew Luck takes his star turn

Andrew Luck AP

You know that 13-play touchdown-scoring drive you saw at the end of the Colts’ win over the Packers on Sunday? That’s what a franchise quarterback is supposed to look like.

Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall pick who had the biggest pair of shoes to fill in the NFL when he took the place of Peyton Manning as the Colts’ quarterback, did every single thing you’d want a rookie quarterback to do if you’ve just put all of your faith in him as the man to lead your franchise for the next decade or so. He ran the no-huddle offense, he managed the clock, he checked down to tight end Coby Fleener when he needed to, threw deep to receiver Reggie Wayne when he needed to, even took off running and picked up a big first down on a third-and-7. Overall, Luck went 8-for-10 for 90 yards and a touchdown on the drive, which gave the Colts a 30-27 lead with 35 seconds to play.

This was a game in which the Colts, who were heavy underdogs, fell behind 21-3 at halftime. Coming after an impossibly difficult week in which they found out their coach, Chuck Pagano, was hospitalized with leukemia, it would have been easy for the Colts to go into the tank. But Luck wasn’t going to let that happen. He was simply great, completing 31 of 55 passes for 362 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and adding 24 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.

Although Manning’s Broncos lost in New England on Sunday, he was outstanding again, with 345 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. And yet no matter how well Manning plays, I doubt there’s anyone in the Colts organization who would take back the decision to release Manning and draft Luck.

With 1,208 yards this season and a 2-2 record, Luck is the first rookie in NFL history to average more than 300 passing yards and lead his team to at least two wins in his first four games. Luck is doing things rookie quarterbacks have never done before. This is what NFL teams dream their rookie quarterback might be able to play like. Luck looks like a star.

Luck was the player who impressed me most on Sunday, but there were a lot of other things I liked, and a few things I didn’t:

The other rookie quarterbacks are pretty good, too. All five of the NFL’s rookie starting quarterbacks — Luck, Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Seattle’s Russell Wilson — have shown a lot of promise. Griffin was knocked out of the Redskins’ loss to the Falcons early on Sunday, but he’s coming off a September in which he was named the league’s offensive rookie of the month. Tannehill threw for 223 yards and had no turnovers as the Dolphins beat the Bengals. Weeden’s Browns are 0-5, but he’s on pace for 4,121 yards this season, which would break the rookie record of 4,051 that Cam Newton set last season. And Wilson is the one rookie quarterback whose team has a winning record, after the Seahawks improved to 3-2 with a win over the Panthers on Sunday.

I love the intentional safety. What a smart call by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, leading 16-10 and facing a fourth down on his own 18-yard line with a minute left in the game. Instead of punting, which would have given the Panthers the ball somewhere around midfield, Carroll called for an intentional safety, which allowed the Seahawks to take a little more time off the clock and then take a free kick from the 20-yard line. Whether the score was 16-10 or 16-12, Carroll knew that his defense just had to keep the Panthers out of the end zone to win the game. And taking a little more time off the clock and moving the Panthers back a little bit farther would make that a little bit tougher. A smart strategic decision by Carroll.

Let’s eliminate the term “mild concussion” from the NFL vocabulary. That’s how Redskins coach Mike Shanahan described the injury Griffin suffered on Sunday, and I know Shanahan was just trying to say that Griffin has a good chance of playing next week, but still: The NFL needs to make it clear that there are no “mild” concussions. It was also disconcerting that the Redskins at first only described Griffin as “shaken up” before later acknowledging that he had, in fact, suffered a concussion. The NFL is investigating whether the Redskins’ handling of Griffin followed league protocols for players who suffer head injuries. If nothing else, the Redskins would be wise to stop brushing off concussions as “mild,” or as just a player being “shaken up.”

Chris Johnson stinks. I don’t know what on earth is wrong with Johnson, the Titans running back who held out from training camp last year until the team gave him a $53.5 million contract, but the reality is he’s just not a good football player anymore. Yes, he still has speed and is capable of breaking long runs, but NFL teams need a running back who can gain yardage consistently, not just break long runs occasionally. And when Johnson gained just 24 yards on 15 carries on Sunday against the Vikings, it marked the fourth time in five games this season that Johnson was held under 25 yards. Johnson is averaging just 2.9 yards a carry, a number that gets usually gets NFL running backs cut. He’s terrible.

Take a minute to appreciate Johnny Unitas. When Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass on Sunday night, making it the 48th consecutive game in which he had done so, he was breaking a record that Johnny Unitas set in 1960 — 1960! Think how different the NFL passing game was in 1960. In 1960, Unitas led the league with 25 touchdown passes. In 2011 there were nine different quarterbacks with more than 25 touchdown passes. The game has changed so much that it’s amazing any passing record could last for more than half a century, but Unitas’s record did. The Colts sure have had some great quarterbacks.

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31 Responses to “NFL morning after: Andrew Luck takes his star turn”
  1. pastabelly says: Oct 8, 2012 8:14 AM

    That was a poorly executed intentional safety because it was a rough snap for the punter to catch and any bobble could have led to a touchdown. The Patriots did something similar against Denver a few years back and snapped the ball through the end zone.

  2. jonny42671 says: Oct 8, 2012 8:16 AM

    Before it counts as a win. We need to hear from coach McCarthy or Sharon Rodgers if it was the refs fault or if they really lost?

  3. jagsfanugh says: Oct 8, 2012 8:17 AM

    What else stinks? The Jags. Under 200 yards of offense and over 500 yards of offense allowed to lose to the Bears 41-3.

  4. buckeye94 says: Oct 8, 2012 8:19 AM

    Luck is good I’m happy for him even though the packers swear they beat themselves. I’m not buying it Colts beat em hands down

  5. fumblenuts says: Oct 8, 2012 8:32 AM

    “Chris Johnson stinks. I don’t know what on earth is wrong with Johnson.”

    DUDE GOT PAID……..called it a career, and screwed the team over.

  6. oriolesvsravens says: Oct 8, 2012 8:36 AM

    CJ(.2)K does have a bad OLine in Houston but he has to take alot of the blame. It seems as though he played for that contract and blame the OLine publicly more than once to not have the media question his ability.

  7. cometkazie says: Oct 8, 2012 8:36 AM

    A good performance.

    I hope the “Luck” continues.

  8. hail74 says: Oct 8, 2012 8:56 AM

    Am I the only one who doesn’t think the skins mishandled the concussion? They didn’t let him back in the game and told cousins he was going to have to play the rest of the game. Why must everything be a controversy?

  9. fjd10 says: Oct 8, 2012 9:01 AM

    About the Brees/Unitas consecutive TD passing streak. I do not think anyone knows this but if they do they never mention it. Unitas did not play in 47 consecutive games when he made his streak. He missed two games to injury in about the middle of that streak. Kurt Warner was asked a couple of years ago about the record and he stated that it was really a hard record to break because it is hard just to play 47 consecutive games never mind throw a TD in each. Well with Brees we now have a QB who has done both.

  10. footballgenius55 says: Oct 8, 2012 9:20 AM

    Okay enough already it seems like since everybody was such in a rush to crown luck that we rush to judgement. Relax rg3 did this already it is sad like hearing these people say he look mature like a 5 year starter please shut up already. I’m not saying he is not good but don’t give him excuses that rg3 won’t get. An one more thing the nfl media is so fickle that if luck sucks for a couple of weeks they will start talking about Peyton again. Message to luck don’t trust a soul in the nfl media because they all are waiting for you to mess up.

  11. sidelineshot says: Oct 8, 2012 9:22 AM

    Finally … folks are jumping on the Andrew Luck bandwagon.
    He is the real deal for the long haul. You may have flashes here and there, such as RGIII and Cam Newton for the instant gratification media types.
    Get real.

  12. mjkelly77 says: Oct 8, 2012 9:42 AM

    There is no doubt that Andrew Luck was and is the best quarterback in his draft class. There isn’t even a close second. Imagine what he’d be doing if he had a team around him.

  13. mjkelly77 says: Oct 8, 2012 9:50 AM

    … the Redskins at first only described Griffin as “shaken up” before later acknowledging that he had, in fact, suffered a concussion.
    ______________________

    He’ll be back soon. Luckily he didn’t lose any of his horse teeth or he’d be out with dental appointments for months.

  14. 49erstim says: Oct 8, 2012 9:54 AM

    CJ2.9YPC……. that sounds about right.

    RG3 never went back in…… it doesn’t matter what the Skins tell the media as long as they keep him out.

  15. htowntexan says: Oct 8, 2012 10:00 AM

    let’s not forget to mention the game that the refs absolutely blew in KC. I still can’t believe the Ravens were gifted another game they didn’t win.

  16. xli2006 says: Oct 8, 2012 10:02 AM

    Luck and RGIII are both going to be solid QBs. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, not sure why that seems to be the desired perspective.

    However, with what Luck has to work with (very little run game, rookie TEs, and pretty much just Reggie Wayne and a group of WR by committee) it would appear Luck is in the drivers seat for Rookie of the Year at this point in the season… with plenty of season left of course.

    Luck has thrown for more yards, TDs, and as many completions as RGIII… IN 1 LESS GAME (bye). Luck has fewer sacks and is Top 3 overall in Yards/Game.

    While Luck has shown the ability to scramble, that is probably RGIII’s biggest advantage, but yesterday also showed it may be his biggest liability as well.

    Only Cam Newton’s rookie year has there been numbers like these put up by a Rookie QB as Luck is putting up now. Cam also had one of the better running teams in the league… Luck doesn’t have that luxury.

    Given their styles of play, the comparisons should be made between RGIII & Newton and Luck & Manning and not really between RGIII and Luck. They have no connection other than just Draft Class.

  17. packerbadger says: Oct 8, 2012 10:06 AM

    Good for Luck. A blind hog finds an acorn once in a while. We’ll see whos at the playoffs.

  18. ernie ernie says: Oct 8, 2012 10:11 AM

    If the Colts coaching staff did anything right besides getting Luck, who had a terrific game, they got the O line talent to protect him. The Pack were rushing, 5,6,7 guys and couldn’t get to him. That of course left plenty of room for the wideouts to get open and for Luck to find them. End of game, end of story.

    Apparently no one on the Pack got the memo that they still, after 5 games and all the draft picks have not improved the defense one bit, maybe they are worse since the guys they did get suck, how do you get rid of them now????????

    When you number one pick shares duties and sits on the bench half the plays, that says something about talent evaluation all right.

  19. rmfields says: Oct 8, 2012 10:16 AM

    Big props to Unitas. Back then, linemen could basically decapitate you, and it was legal. It was a brutal game back then. And your receivers didn’t have the luxury of 5-yard illegal contact penalties on the defense. They had to battle to get open. Unitas was in the trenches every game. He probably wasn’t even thinking about setting records back then. Just staying upright and being able to walk off the field under your own power was a victory.

  20. loilars says: Oct 8, 2012 10:17 AM

    Of course, why would Michael Smith (no one’s confusing you with the ESPN reporter, tool) bring up the Ravens/Chiefs game? If it were the replacement refs, he would have been waxing poetic in post after post about how the integrity of the game was being tarnished and every other stupid cliche he and the players were spouting off. What a typical, media poser.

  21. yyyass says: Oct 8, 2012 10:44 AM

    OMG…whiny Chiefs fans. Yeah, bad call. They happen. The Ravens lost a victory earlier this year when a TD pas was called offensive pass interference. Your Chiefs fumbled a ball away in the endzone. Your Chiefs called multiple 3rd and long DRAW PLAYS for no yardage. Your Chiefs had passes bounce off their chests to the Ravens who then CAUGHT THE BALL. Your Chiefs tried picking defensive backs illegally, forgetting that the replacement refs are gone. Your Chiefs let Flacco – JOE – runs like a little girl instead of a 6-6″ dude – FLACCO scramble for 16 yards on a crucial 3rd and 15. Y’all blew it and the Ravens got lucky. Deal.

  22. taintedlombardis says: Oct 8, 2012 11:18 AM

    The Luck fan boys are pathetic. Constantly comparing RG3 to Luck. From what I’ve seen, Luck actually has the better supporting cast. Yesterday three drives killed by drops for RG3. RG3 has alreasy had a game winning drive and ahould have had two more, bit his teammates are eff ups. RG3 is easily rookie of the year thus far, and is dominating Luck in completion percentage and quarterback rating. I’m not sure Luck is better than Tannenhill…Reggie Wayne is his everything…

  23. elmondohummus says: Oct 8, 2012 11:25 AM

    The reason the term “mild concussion” exists is not for the NFL’s convenience. It’s because current medical science has 3 classifications for grades of concussions, and Grade 1 is called “mild”.

    Now, whether the ‘Skins were actually referring to the American Academy of Neurology grading system or not is a whole other question. If they were using the term “mild” colloquially instead of by the medical profession’s standard, then yes, they were speaking in bad faith. But if they were indeed referring to a Grade I concussion, then it is perfectly legitimate to call that “mild”.

  24. peytonsneck18 says: Oct 8, 2012 11:28 AM

    Ive said from day one that Luck is the real deal!!! IRG3 is alright…its just these annoying skins fans are ready to crown him a playoff qb and HOF’er before the season even started, that game yesterday made yal skins fans eat some humble pie huh

  25. 7ransponder says: Oct 8, 2012 12:00 PM

    No Percy Harvin love? Best all around offensive player in the NFL, hands down, right now.

  26. motoqrss says: Oct 8, 2012 12:06 PM

    Andrew Luck looks and sounds like the caveman on the Gieco commerical..

  27. baloneyjohn says: Oct 8, 2012 1:31 PM

    Sure helps to have Reggie Wayne. RG III and Cam Newton, should be so fortunate

  28. laserw says: Oct 8, 2012 1:41 PM

    In Washington we wish we had a PRO quarterback – instead we have something that runs around but who has little overall impact on our winning – and he is too stupid to not get hit – he’s a showboat, not a pro. It is absolutely disgusting how this offensive coaching staff is treating him with kid gloves and saving him from actually getting us to win – they don’t want him to play the game – they protect him from risking throwing an interception. You won’t find The China doll driving a team down the field to win with a touchdown – he is incapable of leading. In this last game the coaching staff had him throw 4-5 yard passes all game until the idiot allowed himself to get hit (and it was a dirty hit that should be fined $25k for a forearm to China Doll’s head).

  29. bigbluecrew420 says: Oct 8, 2012 2:46 PM

    AR is overrated

  30. 12312 says: Oct 8, 2012 3:31 PM

    Even if Unitas did miss a couple of games, I’m sorry, but 47 games in a row with a TD back then is beyond comprehension, maybe the greatest record of any sport. Props to Brees for actually playing in 48 in a row, let alone throwing TD in all of those, but with due respect, Unitas’ performance stands alone. In his time, he towered over the game as a QB.

  31. hoopsdoc says: Oct 13, 2012 7:03 PM

    Taintedlombardis said “Wayne is Lucks everything”.

    That’s funny. Both Wayne and Garcon were unrestricted FA’s after last season. And guess who the Redskins gave a ridiculously huge contract too? That’s right, Garcon.

    Guess they signed the wrong dude, huh?

    Just face it, so far Luck has been better.

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