Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck suffered various injury throughout the course of 2015 — resulting in one big disappointment of a season. Can Luck once again find the success that he enjoyed in 2014 and years prior?
The Indianapolis Colts were favorites to make an appearance in last year’s super bowl around this time one year ago. Fast-forward to now and the Colts’ script for 2015 didn’t go as planned.
The team had just been coming off of a 2014 campaign in which Luck had the best season of his young career — throwing for over 4,700 yards and a league-leading 40 touchdown passes while leading the Colts to the AFC Championship game. They would wind up being defeated by the New England Patriots in what will forever be known as the ‘DeflateGate’ game.
So what did GM Ryan Grigson do after he witnessed his team fall short one game of the big dance? He added a plethora of veteran free agents in an attempt to get the Colts over the hump in 2015 and represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.
Two of the headlines of Grigson’s 2015 free agency class were the signings of wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore — two signings that were almost surefire bets to give the Colts one of the best offenses in football.
The 2015 campaign ended up being a dumpster-fire not only for Luck, but for the Colts as a whole. The team started off the season with an 0-2 record — something that had happened in 2014 with the Colts ending up winning 11 games. This time however, they finished the season with just eight wins, effectively ending their super bowl aspirations when they were eliminated from playoff contention late in the regular season.
While Luck wasn’t the sole reason the Colts underperformed mightily in 2015, his injuries throughout the course of the year didn’t help, either.
Luck appeared in just seven games in 2015 after not missing a snap in prior years after being drafted No.1 by the Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft. What turned into a rib injury turned into a shoulder injury as the season went on, and eventually a lacerated kidney — effectively ending his season with six games remaining on the Colts’ schedule.
“Personally, I know I wasn’t playing well, whether I was injured or not.”
But even when Luck was playing healthy in 2015, he wasn’t playing good football for the majority of the time, he revealed in an interview with Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star.
“Personally, I know I wasn’t playing well, whether I was injured or not,” Luck said. “I have some thoughts, but I don’t want to share them. I wasn’t doing a good job and it’s no one else’s fault but mine.”
Through the seven games that Luck appeared in for the Colts, he had a record of 2-5 — throwing for 1,881 yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
One other reason for Luck’s poor play could have been due to an extremely leaky and inconsistent offensive line that oftentimes gave the 26-year-old quarterback little-to-no time to make a timely decision — leading to poor passes and lots of hits on the quarterback.
Can Luck return to his old form in 2016?
Grigson made it apparent that Luck needed protection if the Colts wish to have any success down the road when he used four of the Colts’ eight draft picks on offensive linemen in the 2016 draft. Among those linemen is center Ryan Kelly out of Alabama — an All-American in college whom the Colts used their 18th overall selection on.
Perhaps the biggest reason why Luck’s season ended so abruptly was his inability to slide when necessary while on the run. Had it not been for the un-needed hit he took by Vance Walker and Danny Trevathan on a scramble, Luck could have very well remained healthy for the remainder of the year and lead the Colts to the playoffs.
Since then, Luck knows he needs to slide to further preserve his health moving forward. Expect him to avoid taking those unnecessary risks in 2016.
If the Colts’ offense regains its chemistry and can fire on all cylinders in 2016, as well as Luck starting in the vast majority of the games barring any type of injury, then expect the quarterback to return to his prominence of being one of the best young players in the NFL.
With a new-and-improved offensive line as well as the rise of Donte Moncrief in the passing-attack, the Colts and Luck should be hopeful and eager to show the world that the 2015 season was merely just a fluke.
“I’ve never seen him more motivated …” owner Jim Irsay says about Luck’s motivation to hush his critics in 2016. “That fire is in his eye in a special way.”
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