Andrew Luck: Breaking Down Colts' Rookie QB's Preseason Performance

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIAugust 31, 2012

Aug 19, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE
Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Andrew Luck’s preseason performance can be described as anything but disappointing for the Indianapolis Colts. The rookie quarterback definitely made the Colts feel better about parting ways with legend QB Peyton Manning and beginning the Luck era in 2012.

With the hype surmounting and the odds stacked against him on a Colts team that finished just 2-14 in 2011, Luck stepped into the spotlight and shined from the get-go of his NFL career.

The former No. 1 pick started with a bang in his first appearance against the St. Louis Rams. His first pass was just a short screen, but it was taken 63 yards by Donald Brown for a touchdown.

Luck didn’t do much other than cleanly take the snap and let Brown do the work. Still, the legend began with an incredible start.

It wasn’t just big plays for the enigma from Stanford in his debut, though.

With the pressure surrounding him constantly, Luck nailed pinpoint passes and spread the ball around throughout his offense. Somehow, he escaped the pass rush and found receivers quickly with the grace of a seasoned veteran. He then led two more scoring drives before the end of the day.

That’s three touchdown drives in his first appearance in the NFL. I don’t care who you are, even though it was against the St. Louis Rams and during the preseason, that’s still impressive.

He finished with an outstanding 142.7 passer rating on 10-of-16 passing for 188 yards and two touchdowns.

Unsurprisingly, his second outing was also a good one, although he did struggle and threw two interceptions in his first real test against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense, aka the “Steel Curtain.”

His first pick was a poorly underthrown ball to Reggie Wayne that was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Ike Taylor. The second pick, though, bounced out of the arms of T.Y. Hilton, up in the air and into the hands of Steelers defensive back Cortez Allen.

Two interceptions doesn’t tell the whole tale for the rookie, but it is something to take into consideration. He bounced back and used touch and a strong arm to move the Colts down the field twice to get back into the game.

How is this for consideration? Peyton Manning was nearly identical to Luck in his second preseason performance. Manning threw for 177 yards on 16-of-23 passing with two interceptions.

Luck was 16-of-25 for 177 yards with two interceptions thrown.

He didn’t look bad doing it though, either. Luck led two scoring drives and punched one into the end zone himself.

Despite an immediate threat to his well-being from the Steelers’ pass rush, Luck stayed poised and aware in the pocket and made some very nice and accurate throws under pressure.

In his final significant action of the preseason, Luck went up against another tough defense in the Washington Redskins and their No. 2 overall pick—Robert Griffin III.

Griffin and the Skins came out on top on the scoreboard, but Luck played well for his third consecutive appearance. He played into the third quarter, leaving the game with a 14-7 deficit.

Indy was never able to establish a running game and it hurt Luck’s ability to feed off the play-action, something the Colts’ offense relies on heavily.

With a lack of running game and being under constant pressure, Luck completed passes to only four different receivers and was able to sustain just one drive. It was a good one, though, as Luck marched his team down the field on an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with an emphatic 31-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton. It tied the game at 7-7, at that point.

Overall, Luck has shown he has the intangibles and the arm to be a successful NFL quarterback. He’ll go through some lumps in his rookie year, especially behind that offensive line.

However, he looks as advertised by NFL draft experts and is clearly ready for the trials and tribulations of the NFL.

Mike Hoag is a Trends and Traffic writer for Bleacher Report and also covers the Cleveland Browns and the NFL for the site. Follow him on Twitter @BigHoagowski.

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