It has to be Andrew Luck, right? He’s easily the Indianapolis Colts’ best player.
Without him, this team has no shot this season, so why even have this discussion?
Well, NFL Network is releasing their now annual Top 100 Players list. A list that is supposedly voted on by players in the league.
This list has Luck at 30 and Robert Mathis at 19. Last season, the two players were 23rd and 74th respectively. That was after Luck’s rookie year and Mathis’ first season at outside linebacker.
I fail to see how Luck dropped seven spots in his second year. He certainly didn’t get any worse, and managed to cut his turnovers in half while improving his completion percentage.
Mathis, on the other hand, led the NFL in sacks and forced fumbles but was somehow the sixth best defensive player in the league. I can understand J.J. Watt going ahead of him as well as Richard Sherman, but not Robert Quinn who was just behind Mathis in the the same stats.
It is possible that the recent suspension has tainted people’s opinion of Mathis. If you’re missing four games, its hard to be a top player.
The list the NFL Network puts out always seems a bit random and ambiguous. Its hard to take too much stock in it but it makes for good debate (ESPN isn’t the only network embracing it).
Both players mean about as much to their respective sides of the ball. Mathis is the entirety of the pass rush and infinitely better than anyone else on defense. And Luck is the motor behind the offense who consistently makes big plays to keep his team in the game.
The difference is that the quarterback can make a much bigger impact on the the game than a linebacker, or at least have a more consistent impact. It’s a lot easier to take a rush linebacker out of a play than a QB (run to the opposite side, double team him, etc).
Despite the owners desires, this Colts team is about to look an awful like the Peyton Manning led teams of recent history. A top heavy offense with a few playmakers on defense and only one quarterback who can run the system and cover up the flaws.
Honestly, this defense is terrifying right now and will be completely exposed without Mathis for a few weeks. Luck and the offense are going to have to carry this squad all season long. Right now, the team will make the playoffs and certainly has the offense to make a Super Bowl run, but that defense won’t be winning any titles this season.
Luck will have to be the Colts best and most important player all season long if they are going to have any success in the postseason.
It’s interesting to look back over the past couple seasons and pick out the team’s best player. In 2012, I would have said Reggie Wayne with Luck making a ton of big plays late in games and eventually taking over. In 2013, Mathis was a monster and clearly a cut above the rest of the team.
Going into 2014, its an interesting debate. If we want to talk about the best player, I would put my money on Mathis. If Luck makes another big jump in his development, like we expect, then he’ll easily be the team’s best talent. However, the most important man on the roster is easily Luck.