Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck both came into the NFL with remarkable talents. The two quarterbacks were both drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts. Not many people know that both have NFL bloodlines. Peyton is the son of two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Archie Manning, and Andrew is the son of former backup quarterback Oliver Luck.
Both Luck and Manning were exceptional students not only on the field but also in the classroom.
As an All-American, Manning’s 11,201 passing yards and 87 touchdowns for the Tennessee Volunteers caught the eyes of NFL scouts.
By the end of his junior year, Manning had earned enough academic credits to graduate. Much to everyone’s surprise, he decided to stay at the University of Tennessee for his senior year and forgo the 1997 NFL draft. Manning gave up his first-round draft grade and guaranteed signing bonus.
As a senior, Manning won numerous awards. He was a consensus first-team All-American, the Maxwell Award winner, the Davey O'Brien Award winner and the Johnny Unitas Award winner. Manning was also awarded the Best College Player award at the ESPY’s. Unfortunately, he did not win the Heisman, finishing runner-up to Charles Woodson.
Two years ago, The University of Tennessee dedicated a classroom to honor their alumni Peyton Manning.
Luck followed a very similar path. The former Stanford quarterback shocked many when he also decided to return for his senior season. Due to his tremendous success at Stanford, Luck was considered a lock to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft. Instead, Luck decided to finish his degree in architectural design and declared a year later.
Luck even consulted with Manning to help him make such an important decision. At the conclusion of their junior years, both chose completing their education over money and fame—a rarity for star NFL-bound college players.
Through nine weeks of the NFL season, the similarities between Luck and Manning continue to grow. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning reached the halfway point of the season with a 5-3 record and 2,404 yards passing.
Unbelievably, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck reached the halfway point of the season with a 5-3 record and also had exactly 2,404 yards passing. Both have piled up these numbers in a new uniform. Luck has surpassed expectations in his rookie year. Peyton, on the other hand, came off multiple neck surgeries and proved doubters wrong by showing why he’s still among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
The Colt’s interim head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians offered his take on how Luck has performed in his rookie season:
"He's light years ahead of where we thought he would be. There's nothing really left to put in the playbook that we haven't installed, and he's been extremely good in clutch situations.
ABC News also reported some feelings from Arians:
I'm really pleased with where he's at, his competitiveness, his spirit, his grit, and leadership. Those are things you hope you have in a quarterback, and he's got them all."
Coincidentally, Arians served as the team’s quarterback coach in ’98 when Manning was a rookie.
Many teams try limiting their rookie quarterbacks’ weaknesses by using a West Coast offense (a la Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.)
Luck, however, is already working with a complex, pro-style offense. He is also asked to pick up the slack running the ball, in order to help the rather lacklustre 19th-ranked running game. It's remarkable that the Colts have the fourth-ranked ranked offense, considering Reggie Wayne is their only “big-time” playmaker, and their run game is mediocre at best.
Their offense lives and dies on the arm of Luck, and he has not disappointed. He knows how to stand tall in the pocket, sense pressure and avoid it. He can make any throw, over the middle of the field or deep down the sidelines.
Luck turned former second-round castoff Donnie Avery into a capable deep threat. Fellow rookie T.Y Hilton has also added a couple of 100-yard games this season. While first-year tight end Dwayne Allen has come on strong in the past few weeks.
The 2012 and 1998 Colts have scored at nearly the exact same rate, so far, 20.7 PPG in 2012, 19.4 PPG in 1998. Peyton only totaled three wins in his rookie season. Luck has already doubled that number with seven games remaining on the season
Peyton had a more talented offense in his rookie season. On the '98 Colts, Manning was graced with the presence of two Hall of Fame talents in Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison.
Both quarterbacks seemingly had unimpressive rosters surrounding them in their first years. Yet, Luck has prevailed and amazingly carried the team on his back to a 6-3 record through 10 weeks.
Luck’s Week 9 jersey was sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after he threw for a rookie record 433 yards in a 23-20 win over Miami. With that performance, he joined Manning as the only other player to throw for 300-plus yards four times in his first year. Its not even December, and Luck has already cemented himself in history with one of the greatest rookie seasons for a quarterback.
The Colts' offensive line is largely unheralded, yet, they’ve given Luck enough time in the pocket to make plays. When the pocket collapses, Luck has demonstrated the rare ability to complete clutch passes on the run.
Luck is deceptively athletic, having run a 4.67 at the combine. To the surprise of many, Lucks 40 time at the combine equaled Cam Newton’s. This season, the Colts signal-caller has rushed for 159 yards and five TDs. Manning, on the other hand, clocked in much slower at a 4.9 in his rookie year. He only rushed for 62 yards and failed to add a touchdown on the ground that year.
With a rookie quarterback on a team coming off a 2-14 season, there weren't many tagging the Colts as playoff contenders in 2012. Despite the holes on their roster, they have played great team football. The Colt’s lost Garry Bracket, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and Jeff Saturday this past offseason, all of whom were key contributors on the Colts 2007 Super Bowl-winning squad.
The organization will never forget No. 18, but their new man under center has given the city of Indianapolis hope and is the undisputed face of the franchise. Luck is on pace to shatter Manning's rookie statistics. Manning threw for 3,739 yards; Luck is on pace for well over 4,000 yards.
While Luck has enjoyed great success in his rookie year, Manning built a Hall of Fame resume in his 14-year stint with the Colts. Manning was the heart and soul of the Colts franchise for over a decade. He earned four MVP awards, nine playoff wins and a 2007 Super Bowl title with Indianapolis.
At 36 years old, Manning is still going strong. His numbers are MVP-worthy, and the Broncos sit comfortably atop the AFC West.
Thus, Luck will forever be measured against Manning. When Manning left the Colts franchise, another “once in a generation” prospect in Luck was drafted. Though Luck has had a more impressive rookie season than Manning, he has a long way to go before he reaches the elite level Manning sits at.