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Indianapolis Colts: Comparing Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning's Rookie Seasons

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 9, 2017

Indianapolis Colts: Comparing Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning's Rookie Seasons

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    The Indianapolis Colts made a tough decision releasing Peyton Manning and drafting Andrew Luck before the season started but, in retrospect, it was clearly the right long-term choice.

    When Manning was let go, fans were saddened by the news, but excited for the future of the franchise.  Looking back, fans can the first year without Manning on the team was quite a successful.

    With Luck, the comparisons to Manning were happening all year.  With his first season now over, we can now take a look at both of them during their first years and accurately compare.

    Here is a look at some key statistics comparing the two quarterbacks.

Completion Percentage

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    Luck - 54.1 percent

    Manning - 56.7 percent

    Manning wins by a slight margin in completion percentage.  However, both were pretty close to the bottom of the league in that category. 

    This is one statistic that Luck will definitely need to work on.  Manning is now one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL.  Luck ranked second to last in completion percentage before the issue was exposed in the playoffs, where Luck threw 26 incomplete passes against the Ravens, good for just 51.9 percent. This issue needs to be fixed quickly.

    The good news for Luck is that is former-offensive coordinator from Stanford (where Luck completed 67 percent of his passes) will be joining him next season.  He will know how to use Luck effectively and that will hopefully improve this number.

Passing Yards

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    Luck - 4,374 yards

    Manning - 3,739 yards

    Both of these players broke the record for most passing yards by a rookie during their first year.  Cam Newton broke Manning's record last year, but Luck ripped up Newton's record just one year later.

    Luck, however, did throw 52 more passes than Manning is his first year.  While that is a pretty discrepancy, it would appear that Luck would still have thrown for more yards if Manning had had the same amount of attempts.

    While Luck may not complete enough of his passes, he still makes some big plays through the air.  He ranked seventh in the league in passing yards, beating out players like Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning.  This is one of the more positive signs for Luck.

Passing Touchdowns and Interceptions

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    Luck - 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions

    Manning - 26 touchdowns, 28 interceptions

    While Manning edged out Luck by three touchdowns, he also threw a surprising ten more interceptions.

    Manning never threw more interceptions than he did in his first season.  The only other time he threw more than 20 interceptions was in 2001, when he threw 23.

    Luck was three scores away from tying Manning's rookie record for touchdowns.  However, it is a more positive sign that he threw fewer interceptions.  He did a good job at correcting his mistakes and usually played much better after throwing an interception.

Rushing

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    Luck - 255 yards, five touchdowns

    Manning - 62 yards

    One thing that Luck can do that Manning has never been able to do is scramble out of the pocket.

    Luck was amazing this year at escaping pressure and running down the field.  His speed is very surprising, as he is not a small guy.  In fact, he actually weighs more than Manning. 

    Manning has always been a pocket passer, plain and simple.  He has never been the guy to make amazing plays with his feet.  Colts fans now have a quarterback that can do just that.

    While other young, fleet-footed quarterbacks began using the read-option this year, Luck has been just fine running without it.  The read option is risky, especially when the quarterback gets hit.  Robert Griffin III proved that exposing yourself to those kinds of hits consistently is not a good thing.

    This extra dimension that Manning didn't have will be a valuable asset for Luck during his career.  Defenses will have to begin adjusting to it, and that will leave more openings in the passing game.

Record

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    Luck - 11-5

    Manning - 3-13

    Regardless of how many turnovers or touchdowns a quarterback throws, the most important statistic for a quarterback is wins.

    Manning's first season was not pretty.  A record of 3-13 is not a fun start to your career.  However, Manning turned it around quick, going 13-3 the next season. 

    Luck was the first quarterback taken No. 1 overall to have a winning season.  The most wins by a No. 1 pick previously was Sam Bradford with seven.  Luck not only had a winning season, he had 11 wins and a playoff berth.  Even though they lost in the first round against the Baltimore Ravens, the fact that the team turned it around from 2-14 to a team in the playoffs was quite amazing.

Game-Winning Drives

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    Luck - 7

    Manning - 1

    Colts fans remember Manning as the master of the two-minute drill.  Anytime the team was down and there was more than a minute left, they felt confident that Manning would lead them to victory.

    Manning has had 49 career game-winning drives, which is the second most all-time next to Dan Marino, who had 51.  However, he only had one in his first season.

    Luck quickly showed this season that he is an incredibly clutch quarterback.  His seven game-winning drives were tied for the second most in NFL history and the most ever by a rookie.  With so many already, he could pose a real threat to Marino's record.

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