Andrew Luck deserves plenty of plaudits this year, but the NFL Most Valuable Player Award is not one of them.
The Indianapolis Colts quarterback was on the precipice of MVP discussion, but with the way he led the team to their 35-33 win over the Detroit Lions, he's certainly going to get listed amongst the contenders.
What he's done has been incredible, but on the whole, it's not enough to get him up among the elite QBs like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan in the MVP race. Then you throw in the other great candidates like Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and J.J. Watt.
If Luck wasn't a rookie, his season would likely be considered very good for a quarterback but nothing special. Although his 3,596 yards rank fourth in the league, Luck has only the 29th-best passer rating amongst the 34 players who qualify. It's not the most reliable statistic, but he's thrown 16 interceptions to his 17 touchdowns.
Now, obviously Luck's season needs to be viewed through the prism of a rookie just entering the league, but that shouldn't exist when determining the regular season awards. Luck is having a great season for a rookie, but he's not having a transcendent year along with being a rookie, like Mike Trout did in baseball.
Some might argue that he's not even the most valuable rookie quarterback. Robert Griffin III has a much higher passer rating, having thrown one less touchdown but 12 fewer interceptions. He's also added 642 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Luck's getting a lot of credit for helping to turn a 2-14 team last year into a playoff contender in 2012. But that record didn't reflect the talent present on the Colts of 2011.
Where Does Andrew Luck Stand in the NFL MVP Discussion?
Their poor season was a complete aberration after the injury to Peyton Manning. When he went down, Indianapolis had nothing to counter his absence. The Colts went from finishing fourth in total offense in 2010 to 30th in 2011.
It's a bit like when the Cleveland Cavaliers lost LeBron James to the Heat in the 2010 offseason.
They were a much worse team when he left, but they weren't bad enough to warrant a 19-63 record, which included a 26-game losing streak. Suddenly, players are asked to become the star players when they're no better than complimentary.
Last year was like the proverbial quicksand for the Colts in 2011, much like it was for the Cavaliers two seasons ago. The harder Indianapolis tried to fight back and counter their losing streak, the deeper and deeper it sank.
With Luck, the Colts have somebody who can blunt some of the loss the Indianapolis offense suffered when Manning left. Had the team had him last year, you can bet they would have finished much better than 2-14 because he's a much better player than Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.
He's taken the team from having the worst overall record to being a playoff contender. That's not the same kind of leap the Broncos have taken with Manning as their quarterback. With the former Colt, Denver has to be considered a threat for the Super Bowl.
It's clear that the Colts have the heir apparent to Manning in Luck, but it's going to take some time before he's considered to be the most valuable player in the league.