5 Reasons Andrew Luck Has Been the Best Rookie QB This Season
Not only is Andrew Luck the best rookie quarterback this season, but there aren't more than five other quarterbacks you'd want to start a team with in the National Football League.
But that's really besides the point.
For the purpose of this article, Luck is the best rookie quarterback this season.
For some reason, he has gotten some backlash before the draft and during the season.
He's found a way to rise above all that.
Taking into account Luck's record-breaking performance this Sunday, he has cemented himself as the top quarterback in this year's promising crop of first-year signal-callers.
What's most impressive, through all the statistics and the intangibles, is the play of the other rookie quarterbacks in which he is measured against.
Robert Griffin III has provided hope to a Washington Redskins team that hasn't sniffed success in over a decade.
Ryan Tannehill has been a pleasant surprise, playing extremely well on a subpar Miami Dolphins team.
Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson have also shown flashes of potential greatness.
Despite all that, Luck leads the impressive class of quarterbacks, and here are five reasons why.
One of the most unnoticeable things quarterbacks do is how they are able to move their feet just a step or two to avoid oncoming defenders.
Andrew Luck has a great ability to set and reset his feet accordingly in order to zip another pass down the field.
His vision in the pocket is also excellent, considering his offensive line isn't the best in the NFL.
According to Football Outsiders, it's ranked 24th in the NFL in offensive line efficiency but has only given up 16 sacks.
That's right around the middle of the pack when it should be much north of that number.
Ben Roethlisberger is universally lauded for his ability to keep his feet moving and stay alive on third downs to complete and convert the distance.
Luck is slowly putting himself in that category.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are first in third-down percentage in the AFC, while the Indianapolis Colts are ninth. After Luck's record-breaking game against the Miami Dolphins underrated defense, look for that number to go up.
Able Under Pressure
Tanking sometimes does have its benefits.
It may be safe to say that the "Suck for Luck" campaign the Colts successfully pulled off last year will have them set up at the quarterback position for the next decade.
You couldn't say the same about Peyton Manning.
In his first season under center, Luck is on pace to go 380-of-672 (56.5 percent) for a rookie record 4,808 yards.
He's already tied Peyton Manning for the most 300-yard games (4) by a rookie.
Peyton's Denver Broncos are 5-3.
Luck's Colts are 5-3.
Peyton has thrown for 2,404 yards.
Luck has thrown for 2,404 yards.
Then, there is also this:
Andrew Luck now has 2,404 passing yards this season, the most of any rookie through his team’s first 8 games #PeytonWho?— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 4, 2012
After breaking Cam Newton's record with 433 yards passing this Sunday, Luck is now in a class by himself.
Not only is he the best rookie quarterback, but he is on the fringe of the MVP conversation.
Not a bad first year.
Win Without Supporting Cast
After the resurgent Reggie Wayne, Andrew Luck's weapons are as follows: T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill, Donald Brown, Vick Ballard, Donnie Avery, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.
The only player whom people may know outside of Colts fans may be Coby Fleener, and that's because he played with Luck at Stanford.
As I've documented earlier, Luck also doesn't play with the best offensive line.
According to Football Outsiders, the Colts ranked second to last in team defense.
I get that they weren't that good when Peyton Manning played, but they've stunk it up to a whole new level under Andrew Luck.
Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III is playing on a team with a strong run game and better defense.
Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill also have the help of top-10 defenses. Marshawn Lynch and Reggie Bush doesn't hurt either.
And despite all these issues, Luck not only has led the Colts to a winning record, but if the season ended today, they'd be in the playoffs.
Luck is doing something that is unprecedented for rookie quarterbacks in any generation.
Underrated Arm and Legs
Andrew Luck trails the second-leading rusher on the team by 65 yards on 35 less rushes coming into Sunday's game.
But the most impressive aspect of Luck's game is the great pocket presence and what he does after eluding would-be tacklers.
His ability to improve game-by-game is noteworthy.
On Sunday, he completed all his passes from outside the pocket and is 11-of-12 in his last two games.
The ability to go play-action also helps, going 8-of-11 for a touchdown.
Luck would also have much better numbers if it weren't for a couple big drops by T.Y. Hilton.
Yes, if the season ended today, the Indianapolis Colts—the team that was so bad they had the No. 1 pick this year—would be in the AFC playoffs.
Granted, the schedule would appear to have some winnable games, and the AFC itself isn't very good this year.
But keep in mind what the Colts were dong at this time last year with Curtis Painter/Dan Orlovsky/Kerry Collins and there you go.
This isn't a fluke.
They won't overtake the Houston Texans in the AFC North, no one will, but they have a chance to win five of their last eight games.
And it isn't like the Houston Texans are invincible, they barely beat the Buffalo Bills at home on Sunday. If the Colts can steal one there, they can conceivably finish the season 10-6.
We knew Andrew Luck would be pretty good, but this?
This is becoming legendary.