Why the Indianapolis Colts Must Lean on Andrew Luck Rest of the Way

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst INovember 9, 2013

Nov 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) passes against the Houston Texans during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck is the Indianapolis Colts' franchise foundation, and the coaching staff needs to start treating him like the superstar he is, or the one he's desperately trying to become. 

A year ago, he amassed incredible, record-setting numbers as a rookie in Bruce Arians' offensive system that was predicated on long-developing deep routes. 

But Luck's completion percentage was a pedestrian 54.1, and he took way too many hits. 

When Chuck Pagano brought in Luck's collegiate offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton, the fit seemed exquisite. 

While Luck's been decidedly more efficient in the system in which he's very familiar, he's being held back. 

A few weeks ago, I published an article titled: "Trent Richardson, Running Game Only Way Colts Can Upset The Seahawks." 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Trent Richardson #34 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates with Stanley Havili #39 after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It was centered around the premise that, after trading a first-round pick for Richardson, the Colts needed to make him the prominent feature of Pep Hamilton's "Stanford," jumbo package, run-first offense. 

Boy was I wrong. 

Richardson ran 18 times for 56 yards—a stat line that's become a microcosm for his NFL career—and as a team, Indianapolis averaged a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry. 

Trailing by eight mid-way through the 3rd quarter, Luck attempted 15 of his 29 total passes the rest of the way. He led two touchdown drives and one that ended in an insurance field goal. 

Oct 6, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA;  Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) passes the ball during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts emerged victorious 34-28.

Maybe Hamilton was still enamored with the way Indianapolis beat the mighty San Francisco 49ers two weeks prior to the win over the Seahawks, a game that featured 40 rushes for 184 yards and a 13-minute edge in time of possession. 

If the comeback against Seattle wasn't enough to convince Hamilton that he might want to rethink his offensive philosophy, hopefully Week 9's win over the Texans in Houston on Sunday Night Football will change his mind.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and it was a necessity for the Colts to throw the football down 21-3 at the half.  

Then, Luck was given the opportunity to take over, and he did. 

Ha, on Sunday, Andrew Luck dropped back on 32-of-33 plays in 2nd half before final drive. @NateDunlevy

— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) November 5, 2013

T.Y. Hilton caught three second-half touchdown passes, and Indianapolis snuck out of Houston with a huge AFC South win. 

Heading into Week 10's matchup against the St. Louis Rams, Luck has thrown the 17th-most passes in the NFL.  

Geno Smith, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith and Andy Dalton all have more attempts. 

That has to change.

While the Indianapolis Colts have built their team to be the NFL's version of the Stanford Cardinal, Andrew Luck is too good to be handing off 30-plus times a game.