Andrew Luck: How QB Will Reshape Colts' Offense in 2012

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Andrew Luck: How QB Will Reshape Colts' Offense in 2012
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The post-Peyton Manning era for the Indianapolis Colts is underway and the future rests on Andrew Luck.

With Chuck Pagano in charge, the Colts have the fortunate position of Luck getting to transition as a pro quarterback while Pagano transitions as a head coach. Ironically, this is the exact situation the New England Patriots found themselves in back during the 2000 NFL draft.

Like Pagano, Bill Belichick is a defensive-minded head coach and that was also Tom Brady's rookie season. The only difference however, is that Brady went in Round 6 while Luck is a top prospect.

Still, the two will grow and develop together which bodes well when getting acclimated to a new situation. And according to Albert Breer of NFL.com, the Colts expect Luck to be under center from the get-go:

After the Indianapolis Colts draft Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday evening, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians fully expects the Stanford quarterback to run with the first team from Day 1.

“Ain’t no doubt,” Arians said.

So, how will the Colts' offense look with their next franchise quarterback at the helm? Well, let's dive in and find out.

 

Shotgun Becomes Scarce

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Perhaps the best attribute about Andrew Luck is that he's most comfortable taking snaps from under center. Stanford ran your prototypical NFL-style offense and Luck damn near perfected it.

Under the tutelage of Jim Harbaugh and then David Shaw, Luck led the Cardinal to two straight BCS games in 2010 and 2011 as well as a record of 31-8 since 2009.

Stanford was a run-oriented offense that averaged 210 yards on the ground (ranked No. 18) and Luck was supremely efficient as a passer. In Indianapolis, Luck already brings the polished skill set of dropping back properly, reading through progressions, feeling the rush and releasing the ball fluidly.

His arm strength alone can force a defense on its heels and Luck's spot-on marksmanship (71.0 completion percentage between 2010 and 2011) will make the Colts' receivers better. Not to mention, but Luck didn't have the exclusivity to target top receiving prospects during his tenure.

 

Play-Action is Bread and Butter

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The play-action pass is the main reason why the Colts won't need to use shotgun too often. As mention, Luck's better from under center anyway, and the play-action is the best way for any offense to manipulate a defense.

Now yes, Indianapolis must improve on the ground as it ranked just No. 26 in rushing offense by averaging less than 100 yards per contest. Still, the running back tandem of Donald Brown and Delone Carter has potential with a sound quarterback under center.

Also, the running game is a quarterback's best friend—especially rookies—so the Colts can't abandon the ground no matter what. The two-back set will help with Luck's transition and get him more acclimated in running an NFL offense, plus always trying to field a balanced attack is how play-action gets set up.

The AFC South has two elite defenses in Jacksonville and Houston, therefore, keeping these defenses honest is how Luck will dice up the coverage off play-action. Additionally, don't be surprised if the Colts take a running back in the mid-rounds to add depth and competition to the position.


Modified West Coast Attack

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Since Luck is obviously going to be a rookie, every defense he faces will blitz relentless to get him flustered early on.

That said; Indy must use a modified west-coast attack to move the ball effectively. This means a lot of fast snap counts, quick passes and maintaining two running backs on the field at all times. No quick screens, jet sweeps or shotgun play-action, but everything from under center and occasionally some no-huddle.

With Luck's arm strength, accuracy and ability to read defenses pre-snap, receivers running combo routes on the outside and running backs delaying releases into the flats is the best approach. A delayed release give Luck that little extra pass protection, freezes up the linebackers and forces a zone defense to widen (thus become more vulnerable) over the middle.

The running game then becomes more effective between the tackles and we see how Indy sets up play-action. In short, defenses will be kept honest and off balance to limit the aggressiveness against a rookie quarterback.


John Rozum on Twitter.

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