Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck‘s stock took a hit after he appeared in just seven games for the Colts last year. The AFC South’s ESPN reporters weigh in on whether or not Luck is still regarded as the best signal-caller in the division.
In a post from ESPN’s Mike Wells not too long ago, he asked the question of whether or not any of the other three starting quarterbacks in the AFC South can surpass the 26-year-old after a letdown of a season in 2015.
Luck took the league by storm during his first three seasons with the Colts, winning 11 games in three-straight years and advancing further into the playoffs every year.
The Colts’ peak came in 2014 when they reached the AFC Championship game, only to be blown out by the New England Patriots in what is now known as the infamous ‘DeflateGate’ debacle.
During the 2014 season however, Luck had arguably his best year in the NFL. He threw for over 4,700 yards and led the league in touchdowns with 40 as he was making his case as one of the best young quarterbacks in the game at the time.
The narrative changed drastically throughout the course of the 2015 season. Luck would go on to miss a total of nine games — including the team’s final six of the season — due to various injury. This resulted in the Colts missing out on the playoffs and the Houston Texans taking the division title.
Now, many wonder if Luck can bounce back and be the gunslinging quarterback he once was. With rising young quarterbacks in Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota in the division now, some fear that Luck’s title as the best QB amongst the South is at stake.
From the feedback given from the three reporters of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Texans respectively, the consensus was that unless Luck has another season like he did in 2015 when he was mostly injured, it’ll be hard to take that crown away from him.
The feedback from Jagaurs reporter Mike DiRocco stuck out the most of the bunch.
"Another AFC South quarterback can only catch Luck if he plays like he did last season, when he turned the ball over 13 times in seven games and battled rib, shoulder, kidney and abdominal injuries. I’m viewing the 2015 season as an aberration; I expect Luck to play the way he did in his first three seasons. Nobody will be able to touch him if he does that. Bortles has made significant strides, but he hasn’t reached a completion rate of 59 percent in either of his first two seasons. He has thrown 35 interceptions over the same span. He won’t become an elite quarterback until those numbers improve. I like what Mariota did as a rookie (62.2 completion percentage, 19 touchdowns, 10 INTs), but he struggled with injuries and had some trouble calling plays in the huddle. (The Titans are working on simplifying the play calls in 2016.) He’s still adjusting to an NFL offense after playing in the spread at Oregon, too. Maybe in a year or two he’ll have a chance. Osweiler has all of seven starts under his belt and was benched late in the 2015 season. He still hasn’t proven he can be a 16-game starter and lead an offense. I’m sticking with Luck at the top."
Some could view last season as a fluke for both Luck and the entire Colts team. The offense never fully clicked, and the offensive line was a disaster — a unit that appears to be heavily upgraded through this year’s draft.
If Luck can stay healthy all season, then expect him to get the Colts back atop their division and in the playoffs once again.
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