Luck completed 28-of-54 passes for 288 yards on Sunday, but his Colts came up well short of a victory. Indianapolis lost 24-9, and Luck enters the offseason with a lot to think about.
He also finished the season with a lot of experience under his belt, though. Luck set the rookie passing mark this year (previously set by Cam Newton last year), and led his Colts to a 11-5 regular-season record.
The Colts narrowly missed overtaking the Houston Texans for the lead in the AFC South, but 11 wins was more than any rookie quarterback managed this season. He experienced success and failure, but everything that happened this year will make Luck much better next season.
The Colts should look to add some help for Luck in the offseason, both in the passing game and on his offensive line. Luck wasn’t afforded the talent of many quarterbacks in the league, but his team was also one of the youngest in the NFL.
The talent around Luck will improve, and so will he.
Luck’s final season stats give mixed impressions. He threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2012, but he also threw the second-most interceptions in the league (18). His completion percentage (54.1 percent) ranked No. 31 in the NFL, but he also attempted the fifth-most passes among starting quarterbacks.
Rookies Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have garnered a lot of attention because of their statistics this year, but Luck had to do more with less to get his team into the playoffs. Seattle’s defense finished the regular season No. 4 in the league, while Indianapolis was ranked No. 26 in the league. Luck was forced to air it out often, and he did it with the poise of a much more experienced signal-caller.
Luck’s poise and intelligence are two of the main reasons for his success this year, and those traits are also building blocks for elite quarterbacks. He did enough this year to cause concern for every defense in the league next year.
Because Luck replaced one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL in Peyton Manning, he’s arguably been the most scrutinized rookie in the league. But like Manning, Luck’s performance will continue to get better.
Manning threw 28 interceptions his rookie season, but that was the most he has ever thrown. He went on to pass for 4,135 yards and 26 touchdowns in his second season, and Luck could easily experience the same kind of success in his sophomore campaign.
With enough talent around him, Luck can be the best quarterback in the NFL, and he may hold that distinction sooner than many think. He has all the physical and mental tools to be great, and gained enough experience this season to put together a stellar campaign next year.
Luck will use his untimely departure from the playoffs as motivation to get better. He has a winning attitude and a desire to get better—something that drives all elite quarterbacks. With this year’s experiences under his belt, Luck has a solid foundation on which to build for next year.