Andrew Luck Could Lead the Colts to the Playoffs in 2012

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Andrew Luck Could Lead the Colts to the Playoffs in 2012
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This sounds absolutely insane, and you probably don't want to bring yourself to continue reading.

The 2-14 Colts of 2011, with the addition of a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback, transform into a playoff team in one year’s time?

I thought it was insane too, but then I looked more closely—foolishly, I thought. I am not a huge drinker of the Andrew Luck Kool-Aid, but it's hard to deny how NFL-ready he seems to be.

I think I've talked myself into at least the possibility that Luck could lead the Colts to the playoffs this coming season.

Why? A laundry list of reports pops out.

Already displaying his fiercely competitive nature toward a prominent figure in football in Phil Simms, Luck bombed a 70-yard pass at his pro day into a 15 mile-per-hour headwind.

At that same pro day, he showed off his incredible football IQ by calling three plays in one formation while in the huddle, then picking one of those plays at the line of scrimmage.

Despite adjusting to a new playbook, team and environment, initial reports from rookie minicamp say Luck yelled out 30 word plays by heart during his first practice.

Luck is also surrounded by a slew of quarterback gurus. New head coach Chuck Pagano was wise to retain Clyde Christensen as the quarterback coach, as he has been with the team since 2002.

How many games will the Colts win in 2012 with Andrew Luck under center?

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Also brought back into the fold was the architect of the Pittsburgh Steelers' successful aerial attack over the past four years, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. He served as Peyton Manning's quarterback coach in Manning's first three years in the league.

The Colts made sure Luck had some weapons to work with, despite losing explosive youngster Pierre Garcon in free agency.

Luck’s Stanford teammate and roommate Coby Fleener was picked up in the second round of the draft. The Colts also drafted Dwayne Allen, another big tight end target for Luck, who relied heavily on tight ends last season at Stanford.

Fortunately, Luck will also be able to count on at least one receiver as he begins his NFL career. He'll have Reggie Wayne split out wide, who racked up nearly 1,000 receiving without his long-time quarterback Manning, showing he can still produce no matter who is throwing the ball his way (or attempting to throw it).

Austin Collie will hopefully not have concussion issues and be a significant contributor for Luck as well.

Another Stanford teammate—Griff Whalen—is getting a look in camp. 

In addition, oft-injured, lightning-fast Donnie Avery is hoping to redeem what has seemed, at times, to be a promising career.

Concerns that the Colts’ offense won’t be balanced should be dispelled, as Luck himself has the mobility to lift the running game.

Luck ran in the 4.5-4.6 range in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and he certainly isn’t afraid of a little contact.

That type of mobility from the quarterback position will help take pressure off of a young and raw offensive line, and Luck's ability as a passer should also open up running lanes to create a balanced offense for the new-look Colts.

The importance of a competent quarterback who can audibly call effective plays cannot be overstated. Luck can also give a defensive unit much-needed rest, which can lead to immense improvement.

With Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the Colts have two elite pass-rushers. Pat Angerer will provide stability to an inexperienced linebacker group, while former first-round pick Jerry Hughes may fit as a 3-4 linebacker in the team’s new scheme and prove himself not to be a bust.

The secondary is suspect. Nothing I've looked at proves otherwise. However, it should benefit significantly from the return of Jerraud Powers, along with All-Pro free safety Antoine Bethea’s consistent play and veteran presence.

Entering Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season, the Cincinnati Bengals were ranked dead last in the ESPN.com power rankings. Once Week 17 was over, they were tenth and qualified for the playoffs.

All indications are that the Colts will be in that same situation as Cincinnati before the season began a year ago: 32 out of 32 in the power rankings.

Could history repeat itself?

If Luck is what everyone thinks he, in a division mired in uncertainty and in a league where a quarterback can literally make or break a franchise, he may bring the Colts back to relevance faster than drooling scouts and analysts or his biggest fans could have imagined.

The Colts may not have a ton of talent on paper, but Luck is on their side.

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