With the Colts clinging to playoff aspirations and their quarterback situation a mess, the thought of Andrew Luck playing through his kidney injury might have crossed the minds of some Indianapolis fans and even coaches.
But as reported by Stampede Blue earlier this week, it seems that Andrew Luck ha2 already played through a significant injury that may have affected his 2015 performance.
“According to an NFL source, Luck sustained torn cartilage on two of his ribs and was still coping with significant pain after returning to the lineup for four games in late October and early November. The injury likely affected Luck’s performance after he returned from a two-game absence that the Colts attributed to a shoulder injury. Luck, according to the source, needed pain-killing injections to play and was quite limited by the injury.”
With no less than nine different games needing to go the Colts way this Sunday and with their head coaching situation spiraling out of control, would it even make sense exposing their franchise quarterback to further injury, even if Indianapolis somehow made the playoffs?
According to the Indianapolis Star, the Colts are still mathematically alive for a playoff berth, but need the following teams to lose this weekend in conjunction with an Indianapolis win for that to come to fruition: New York Jets, Houston, New England, San Diego, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Cleveland.
Normally, NFL playoff scenarios are cut and dry with a win-or-in situation presenting itself among a few alternate possibilities. But this one’s pretty bizarre even by NFL tie-breaker standards. In the end, it was explained that the Colts can still make it because of strength of schedule.
“Fourteen of Houston’s and Indianapolis’ 16 games are the same, meaning it comes down to Denver and Pittsburgh for the Colts, Kansas City and Cincinnati for Houston. Since Cincinnati has to lose to Denver and Baltimore for this scenario to come into play, Houston’s strength of schedule would be 21-10, with Kansas City facing Oakland. Indianapolis’ is 20-10 with Denver facing San Diego and Pittsburgh playing at Cleveland. So Kansas City needs to lose and Denver and Pittsburgh need to win to give the Colts the edge.”
Indianapolis will have to attempt the impossible not only without Luck, but also without their second and third string quarterbacks. Matt Hasselbeck went down with a myriad of injuries suffered throughout the year. Third stringer Charlie Whitehurst, the backup to Hasselbeck, was placed on injured reserve Monday with a hamstring injury suffered during last week’s victory over the Miami Dolphins. This leaves the Colts with little options for this Sunday’s game against Tennessee.
According to FOX Sports, coach Chuck Pagano gets to choose between newly signed Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley or practice squad call-up Stephen Morris as Indy’s options under center.
“It’s been just crazy, a lot of studying, a lot of late nights,” Morris said. “I think the biggest thing is just knowing where the ball has to go. The faster you can feel comfortable in it, the better chances you have on the field. When the lights are on and things are flying, you’re going to revert back to what you’ve been doing in practice.”
Coach Pagano, meanwhile, has also had to deal with more than just his quarterbacks playing through injury. According to a report by ESPN, the Colts are expected to terminate their relationship with Pagano after the season ends.
“Short of an unexpected playoff berth,” the report reads, “the Indianapolis Colts do not plan to retain coach Chuck Pagano at the end of the season, while general manager Ryan Grigson will at least help in the coaching search, league sources told ESPN.com.”
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]