Andrew Luck is Hurt So Who Deserves the Blame?

3 of 4

January 24, 2014; Ko’Olina, HI, USA; Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive coordinator’s job is to put the offense in the best situations to succeed. Above all else, it is to put the quarterback in the best position to win. Is Pep Hamilton putting Andrew Luck in harms way?

Oddly, if Andrew Luck had a top-notch offensive line – one that does not cave under four-man rushes – he would look amazing for these exact same traits he’s being asked to correct. When the Colts are winning those traits called heroic, however, when the Colts are losing those traits are called reckless.

Now rationally speaking, there are some things Luck can do as previously indicated. He can switch to more three step drops and spread the field relying on quick passes and treating the short pass like the run. Getting the ball out quicker will save him punishment. But is that on Luck or on the one calling the plays? In this case, that is the offensive coordinator.

More from Ink on Indy

Pep Hamilton has been Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator for four years. They were together for two years at Stanford and this marks his their third season together in Indianapolis. Luck has struggled at times with the offense. Not with X’s and O’s but with protection schemes. Why? Because the Colts want to have a power running game, but do not have an offensive line that can do it. Instead, they have a motley crew of mixed styles.

Hamilton, despite knowing this continues to call plays with a stubborn set to his jaw. It almost seems like he is waiting for the light bulb to come on or for a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and somehow, he has all to players who fit his scheme. Sadly, that’s not how the NFL works. With a hodgepodge of journeymen, and a few young players constantly rotating in and out of a reshuffled line, consistency and continuity are severely lacking.

Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton during game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pep cannot continue to call max protection plays against a cover zero jailbreak blitz. Too many times Andrew Luck is seen holding onto the ball as the pocket collapses around him all because his receivers are still running down field and no check down receiver is even looking for a pass when Luck’s time runs out. What can be done?

I’m glad you asked. First, Pep Hamilton needs to realize that this is the roster he’s been given to work with. There are lots of high-valued skill players, but there is very little talent on the offensive line.

Right now, With Anthony Castonzo at left tackle and Jack Mewhort back at left guard, the left side is solidified. The other three positions still lack an anchor. Joe Reitz is a serviceable right tackle, but he plays his best games at guard.

More from Andrew Luck

Knowing this Pep needs to speed up the delivery of his plays and adjust his play calling. If you have to max protect then there needs to be a running back or tight end who chip blocks and releases as an outlet. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to integrate the short routes with a mix of screens and roll-outs. Andrew Luck is an athlete and if given a chance to scramble off a rollout he could easily gain more yards on the ground if no one is open.

Additionally, once Luck gets a few of those gains it will draw the cornerbacks and safety’s eyes on Luck’s side of the field. Drawing their attention, will cause them to drift toward him in case he runs. This allows players like T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett to get behind the safeties for the big plays this offense has been lacking.

Using screens, by which  I do not mean the outside bubble-screens, instead actual linemen pulling out into space and becoming lead blockers for motioned receivers and running backs Frank Gore. All the Colts need are two or three chunk plays against a blitz. If they can do that, opposing coordinators will be forced to soften their pressure or risk getting blown up for even more big plays. Simply, the rolling the quarterback out and implementing a screen game will keep the defense honest and force them to blitz less. Once that happens Pep Hamilton’s playbook opens back up.

Next: What about Grigson?