NFL Draft Fact or Fiction: Can Andrew Luck Fix the Colts Right Away?
If the Indianapolis Colts are without quarterback Peyton Manning next season and they land the No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL draft, the Colts may have to rely on Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck to help fix their franchise as soon as next season.
Colts' owner Jim Irsay has gone on record saying, "If the situation is where he’s back and healthy, I see him come back and playing here.” In the worst-case scenario, Manning won't recover from his neck injuries and will have to make the decision to retire. If that is the case, the Colts will likely have to designate Luck as their starter for 2012.
It is hard to imagine the Colts never having Manning under center ever again, but there is a possibility that it will happen. If it does, the Colts are going to have to decide if they can find success with a rookie in Luck or figure something else out.
Could Luck turn around the Colts immediately, or would it take a little more time?
Peyton Manning Struggled His First Season
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In Peyton Manning's first season with the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts went 3-13 and things were not looking that great for their rookie quarterback.
In Manning's inaugural season, he threw for 3,739 yards while completing 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Manning never threw more than 20 interceptions except for his rookie year and his fourth season, which was the only other time the Colts had a losing record.
Andrew Luck has only thrown 17 interceptions over his last two seasons, so he isn't prone to throwing the ball to the other team. The NFL is completely different, so it isn't a sure thing that Luck will be safe just because his past says so.
It will remain to be seen what the Colts decide to do after this season. Will they keep offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen? Will they keep head coach Jim Caldwell?
Clearly, this team is dependent on Manning and not the coaching staff.
How Have Past Number One Picks Fared?
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Just because a quarterback had a lot of success in college, it doesn't exactly mean they will be effective early on in their NFL career. When a quarterback is drafted number one overall, there have been mixed results in their first full season under center.
The following quarterbacks were taken number one overall since 1998. The college stats are from their last year in college, and the NFL stats are their first full season with their respective team.
Follow up on the next slide for further analysis.
|Peyton Manning - 1998||36||11||3819||8-4||/||26||28||3739||3-13|
|Tim Couch - 1999||36||15||4275||7-5||/||15||13||2447||2-12|
|Michael Vick* - 2001||8||6||1234||9-1||/||16||8||2936||8-6-1|
|David Carr - 2002||42||7||4299||11-2||/||9||15||2592||4-12|
|Carson Palmer - 2003||33||10||3942||11-2||/||18||18||2897||6-7|
|Eli Manning* - 2004||29||10||3600||10-3||/||24||17||3762||11-5|
|Alex Smith* - 2005||32||4||2952||12-0||/||16||16||2890||7-9|
|JaMarcus Russell* - 2007||28||8||3129||11-2||/||13||8||2423||5-10|
|Matthew Stafford - 2009||25||10||3459||10-3||/||13||20||2267||2-8|
|Sam Bradford^ - 2010||50||8||4720||12-2||/||18||15||3512||7-9|
|Cam Newton+ - 2011||30||7||2854||14-0||/||20||16||3893||6-9|
|Andrew Luck+ - 2012||35||9||3170||11-1||/||—||—||—||—|
* First full season was their second year in NFL
+ Season still in progress
^ Year before drafted due to injury
Answer: College Success Is No Guarantee
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While players like Eli Manning and Michael Vick saw success in their first season as a full-time starter, the other nine quarterbacks did not. The thing is, Manning and Vick were not the designated starters when they first arrived in the NFL.
It is true that many of these players joined teams that were not good to begin with, as they did have the number one overall pick. That being said, one player isn't going to completely turn a team around.
Besides for Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Cam Newton, none of the quarterbacks eclipsed 20 touchdown passes on the year. Also, nine of the 11 quarterbacks threw over 15 interceptions, way more than their college numbers.
More importantly, besides for Vick, Eli Manning and Cam Newton, none of the quarterbacks eclipsed their college passing yards despite playing more games in the NFL. Of course the college game is easier for these top tier athletes, but one would expect them to be able to throw for much more yards given they got to play three more games each.
The most success hasn't happened instantly.
Most players take time to become accustomed to playing in the NFL, but in the end they have success. Both Mannings have won Super Bowls, and right now Matthew Stafford is looking to be a great quarterback for years to come.
There is always is the chance that Andrew Luck could turn out to be a bust. Players like JaMarcus Russell, David Carr, Tim Couch and arguably Alex Smith never turned out to be as advertised.
While there is always a chance that Luck could succeed in his rookie season, the past proves that he would have better success in his first full season if he were to start a year or two after being drafted.
There Has Been No Success Outside of Peyton Manning
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The Indianapolis Colts definitely learned the hard way this season that they are not the same team without quarterback Peyton Manning.
Up until this season, Manning had never missed one game in his 13 years as the Colts' starting quarterback. Manning has led the Colts to an overall record of 147-67, keeping the Colts consistently one of the best teams in the NFL. With a mark of 2-13 thus far, things clearly haven't been the same for the Colts.
With Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky all sharing time under center, the Colts' trio of quarterbacks have thrown for only 2,959 yards this season. That is nothing close to what Manning has done over his career. Manning has never had a year less than 3,700 yards.
While the addition of Andrew Luck is certainly a step above the Colts' current backup plan, we can clearly see that there is no guarantee that any quarterback could have success playing in the system that has been setup specifically for Manning.
Luck may be able to pick up on it if taught properly, but it seems like it isn't a one-year process. If the Colts were smart, creating an offensive plan on a clean slate may just be the best solution if Luck is designated to start next season.
Will the Indianapolis Colts Have Reggie Wayne?
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After this season, Reggie Wayne will be a free agent and could possibly choose to play somewhere outside of the Indianapolis Colts organization for the first time in his 11-year career.
Wayne has not only been the best receiver for the Colts over the past eight years, but he has been one of the most dominant receivers in the game. He has had seven consecutive years with over 1,000 yards, including a 1,355-yard season just a year ago.
If Peyton Manning does decide to retire, Wayne may decide that he would be best to finish out his career elsewhere, such as a team where he could see much more success towards the end of his career. While he could have success with Andrew Luck, Wayne would have to decide if he was willing to risk another year of his career on poor results.
Over the last two seasons, Wayne had over 100 receptions. This year, he has yet to even eclipse 70. This year definitely has not been ideal for Wayne, and he may ultimately decide that he would be best to finish his career elsewhere.
It Is Not Just the Offense
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The Indianapolis Colts are not sitting at 2-13 this season just because their offense is struggling.
The Colts' defense has been allowing 27.4 points per game, third worst in the NFL. Clearly, the team isn't just struggling because the offense can't produce, but only scoring 15.3 points per game definitely won't help their cause.
It isn't clear if the defense is just playing down because they are missing their leader in Peyton Manning, but the offense has been consistently giving their opposition solid field position throughout the season due to their inability to move the ball.
Last season with Manning under center, the Colts were giving up 24.3 points per game. That is only about three less points a game compared to this season, so clearly the Colts are missing Manning and the 27.4 points per game he brought to the team just a year ago.
If things stand to be the same for this Colts' defense, they will be relying heavily on Andrew Luck to carry this team in the same manner that Manning did.
The Stanford Cardinal Run a Pro-Style Offense
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The benefit to Andrew Luck is that he plays under a pro-style offense with the Stanford Cardinal. Luck has been extremely successful in his time at Stanford, only losing twice over the last two seasons.
While Luck has had great success, it is true that quarterbacks playing in a pro-style offense are not always fully capable of running an actual NFL offense. Players like Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen from Notre Dame were not successful despite their experience in a pro-style offense.
It definitely gives Luck an advantage, but it also doesn't guarantee any success. The Colts would have to move from their current style of play, which is Peyton Manning, and adjust to how Luck would run the offense.
Luck has the potential for a reason, but the Colts are going to have to play to his strengths and not Manning's to see true success.
He Played Well Against His Toughest Competition
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Playing in the Pac-12, Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal usually play a relatively strong schedule. Unlike past number one picks like David Carr and Alex Smith, Luck saw tough opposition almost weekly.
This season, the Cardinal had to play against the Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This bowl season, he will be playing the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys, which will be a huge statement game for Luck to close out his draft stock.
In those four games, Luck threw for 988 yards with 12 touchdowns while only turning the ball over four times. Luck had his hardest time against the Ducks, but he also saw success through tough times by completing 66 percent of his passes, including three touchdowns.
In the Orange Bowl last season, Luck tore apart the Virginia Tech Hokies, completing 18 of his 23 passes for 287 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Luck will have to hope to have a repeat performance this bowl season.
Throughout the entire season, Luck never had one game with less then two touchdowns. He has proven time and time again that he can lead an offense while playing against tough competition.
The Colts Are Not Your Typical Worst Team
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I mean let's be honest, the Indianapolis Colts are not exactly a team that has been struggling for some time now. With Peyton Manning, they went to the Super Bowl in both 2006 and 2009, winning the former. They haven't had a losing record since 2001, which was also the last time the team missed the playoffs.
If this is truly the end of Manning and his career, the Colts could truly be lucky being able to draft a quarterback like Luck. While there is no guarantee that Luck will see success in the NFL, they are in position to draft a quarterback who highly regarded and could be in position to join a team that has been a winner for a long time.
As previously mentioned, this team has gone in the complete opposite direction without Manning. It would be a tall order to think that a rookie quarterback could turn things around, but it isn't impossible considering the possible situation that he is walking into.
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It is really hard to give Andrew Luck the vote of confidence considering how things have gone in the past for former number one overall taken quarterbacks. Considering though how the Indianapolis Colts are different than other teams that usually are in this position, it is considerably realistic that Luck will be able to have quick success.
One of the main things that the Colts are going to have to decide on is retooling their offensive game plan. Right now, they are all about Peyton Manning and what he has done over the years. If Luck is their quarterback next season, they need to design a system that works just for Luck, like the current one does for Manning.
The Colts will also need to find a running back that can't help the offense move the ball. The Colts had some success with Joseph Addai over the years, but clearly they will need to find a back that can cause as much damage as what Addai and Edgerrin James were able to do for the Colts in the past.
It will remain to be seen how this season finishes with one last game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but if the Colts maintain to own the number one pick, their selection of Luck will put them in the best position to turn this team around quickly if they do lose Manning for good.