Andrew Luck: Why the Rookie QB Will Bounce Back vs. Vikings

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Andrew Luck: Why the Rookie QB Will Bounce Back vs. Vikings
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was not least among the four rookie starting signal-callers that struggled in their Week 1 debuts.

That shouldn't be cause for alarm. The Minnesota Vikings are coming to town this weekend, and the No. 1 overall pick will bounce back in a big way.

It's important to recognize the context of Luck's beginnings under center: on the road, against the Chicago Bears who sport a traditionally fierce defense anchored by Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Julius Peppers.

Luck was under duress all afternoon, and the 45 passes he threw came as a result of falling behind. The Indy defense couldn't stop a nosebleed.

Soldier Field is a hostile environment and there was constant pressure to frustrate Luck. For a QB who isn't known for making mistakes, his four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble lost) looked like those a rookie would make.

The final pick Luck threw was also toward the end of the game and was simply forced. He probably would not have thrown it in a tighter situation.

A number of factors created the perfect storm for Luck's introduction to the NFL, but he did manage to throw for over 300 yards and orchestrate two touchdown drives. Another drive stalled when Luck threw a pick in the endzone after 70 yards and 10 plays.

Outside of taking some expected lumps in his first taste of action, Luck moved the ball well and had to press a little bit with his defense giving up points on nearly every possession.

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Onto this week's opponent: the Vikings.

In a miraculous development, Minnesota managed to claw its way back in the final minute of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Thanks to some clutch play from kicker Blair Walsh and strong runs by Adrian Peterson, the Vikes pulled it out in overtime.

Maybe Jags QB Blaine Gabbert is immensely improved from his first year, but the Viking secondary made him look rather extraordinary. Gabbert slung it for a career-high 260 yards passing, and a late TD throw that seemed to seal the game.

In the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium, Luck will face a much more generous defense than the one he faced in Chicago.

Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson make up a solid linebacker corps for Minnesota, and, of course, Jared Allen will be flying in off the edge. However, the back end of the defense is vulnerable.

Veteran Colts receiver Reggie Wayne grabbed nine passes for 135 yards in the opener, and he will be matched up against either Chris Cook or an aging Antoine Winfield on the outside.

Winfield, an All-Pro corner in 2008, is not the player he once was and may have a long day ahead opposite Wayne.

First-round pick Harrison Smith starts at free safety for the Vikes, and many of the big plays Gabbert made—including that deep touchdown to Cecil Shorts with 20 seconds left—can be traced to him.

Vertical shots should be available for Luck throughout the game, and he will be able to evade pressure more easily against Minnesota's thinner defensive line and less athletic linebackers.

Coby Fleener quietly had a strong start at tight end with six catches for 82 yards. He will create even more severe matchup problems than he did last week. Luck's chemistry with his college roommate at Stanford seems to have carried over to the pros.

While it remains to be seen if the Colts can stop the Vikings and Peterson, Luck and the offense will bounce back.

The new franchise QB in Indianapolis will look more like Robert Griffin III than his other floundering rookie counterparts and will have his official "coming out party."

Sequence: Peyton Manning --> one year of suffering --> Andrew Luck's arrival in Week 2.

Sign me up, Colts fans.

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