Andrew Luck is heading into the 2016 NFL season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He was unable to stay healthy last season and even when he was healthy, he didn’t look anything like the superstar franchise quarterback that the Indianapolis Colts had the year before. There are a lot of question marks heading into the upcoming season, but Luck is out to prove that he is just fine.
Can Luck return to superstar form for the Colts this season and make them relevant in the AFC again?
Last season with the Colts, Luck played in just seven regular season games. He completed a career low 55.3 percent of his passes in those appearances and threw for 1,881 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Those numbers were worrisome, as he showed no improvement from a turnover standpoint. He has been prone to throw interceptions throughout his career, and there simply hasn’t been an obvious step forward. That isn’t supposed to be a question about Luck’s work ethic, but it does become an issue at some point.
At 26-years-old, Luck is still a very young quarterback and deserves the benefit of the doubt. He has been forced into a situation where he had to learn on the go and is still learning the pro game. Perhaps learning from the sidelines last season will be beneficial to his long-term success moving forward.
Looking ahead at the upcoming season, the Colts have given Luck a very talented offense to work with and a lot of targets capable of making plays for him.
T.Y. Hilton is one of the most talented wide receivers in the entire NFL and has built a great chemistry with Luck during their careers together. Donte Moncrief showed signs of stardom last season and is ready to break out and prove his talent. Phillip Dorsett is entering his second season and wants to prove Ryan Grigson right for drafting him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft without needing another wide receiver.
Chuck Pagano is back as head coach as well, which means that the Colts will go as far as Luck can take them. He has the utmost faith in his starting quarterback and that has shown throughout the last few years.
There is no question that Luck possesses the talent to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. He has shown flashes of brilliance in clutch situations and led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game just two short years ago. Luck took his team farther in each of his first three seasons and many thought he would make it into the Super Bowl last season.
To answer the original question, there is no doubt that Luck can get back to being a superstar quarterback.
Getting back to full health is his first priority, but the time away from the game will end up being a major plus for him. He was able to study the game in detail by watching others. It gave him a chance to slow down and develop rather than constantly be forcing the issue trying to get the Colts back to the Super Bowl.
Even though Luck has done very well after being thrown onto the field immediately, no player can learn perfectly that way. Aaron Rodgers is a prime example of how sitting on the sidelines can help a quarterback develop. While Matt Hasselbeck was nothing compared to Brett Favre, there were still many things that Luck could learn from the veteran quarterback.
Expect to see Luck break out with a huge season in 2016 and prove the Colts right for giving him a five-year, $122.9 million contract. Jim Irsay never had any doubts about giving Luck that contract and it will pay off in a big way.
Indianapolis may have suffered through an incredibly tough season last year, but their franchise quarterback will lead them back to the playoffs this season and will look like the superstar that Colts fans have come to know and love.
[Photo by Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini]