Quarterback Andrew Luck’s play this season has more than justified the Indianapolis Colts’ decision to select him as the No. 1 overall pick back in April’s NFL Draft. However, as is evident from the team’s 59-24 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, the rookie isn’t quite ready for the big time just yet.
With Luck this season, it’s a matter of seeing the glass half full or half empty.
On the optimistic side, the 23-year-old ranks No. 7 in the NFL in both total yards passing and yards per game. Furthermore, Luck’s five rushing touchdowns not only lead the team, but it also has him ranked No. 8 in the league and No. 2 among quarterbacks. In fact, it also serves as the most rushing touchdowns by an Indianapolis quarterback in more than 20 years.
Combine that with the fact that the Colts already have four more wins than they did all of last season, and the former Stanford Cardinal standout is off to a great start to his NFL career.
Conversely, Luck has had his fair share of disappointments and shortcomings.
For starters, Luck’s 77.2 QB rating has him ranked No. 28 in the league—0.2 points worse than Blaine Gabbert and only 3.8 points better than Mark Sanchez. That’s not the best company to be keeping.
Then there’s the matter of the rookie quarterback’s tendency for mistakes.
Luck’s 12 interceptions have him tied for third-most in the league. It’s the most interceptions thrown by an Indianapolis quarterback in the first 10 games since Peyton Manning threw the same amount back in 2002.
Where will the Colts finish?
He’s been prone to losing control of the ball as well, fumbling a total of eight times on the season. It’s a mark that has him tied for third-most in the league and the most in Colts’ history since Jeff George lost eight back in 1991.
The matchup with the Patriots put all the highs and lows on full display over the weekend.
On the day, Luck topped Tom Brady, throwing for 334 yards—his NFL rookie-record fifth 300-yard passing game—and two touchdowns. In fact, Indianapolis’ 448 total yards were two more than the total amassed by New England. Furthermore, the Colts converted on 57 percent of their third downs, emphasizing the fact that they had no difficulty moving the ball.
However, Luck’s mistakes were their ultimate downfall.
The former Heisman Trophy runner-up had three interceptions on the day—two that were returned for scores—and lost a fumble. It was his fourth game of the season with multiple turnovers. The Patriots capitalized on the four turnovers, scoring 21 points off of them.
If Luck hopes to lead Indianapolis on a deep playoff run, it’s imperative the rookie signal-caller learns to be a lot more careful with the football.
There’s also his split personality when it comes to playing at home and away.
At home, Luck is almost flawless, leading the team to a 4-1 record. He has thrown eight touchdowns, two interceptions and averages 303.6 yards per game. Luck has an 88.6 quarterback rating on the Colts’ home turf.
On the road, Luck has struggled, with the team only 2-3 in such games. Luck has only four touchdowns, compared to 10 interceptions, and averages 289.4 yards per game. His quarterback rating is a lowly 65.4 away from home.
It’s a trend the early Rookie of the Year favorite will need to put behind him in the closing weeks of the season.
While Indianapolis finishes with an equal number of home and away games, two of the team’s final three games are on the road. With the Colts likely to snag a Wild Card seed in the playoffs, Luck will have to perform away from Indianapolis if he hopes to extend the team’s season.
Unfortunately for Indianapolis, performing on the road has seemed to be almost too tall of a task for the rookie to accomplish this season.
However, there’s still time to change all that.
As of now, lowered expectations may be the likeliest route to go.
You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at @SP7988