It’s tough to label a guy heading into his second season as “overrated”, but in the case of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, I think that label might be accurate.
Luck consistently gets mentioned in the same breath as guys like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. All four led their teams to the playoffs during the 2012 season and many are expecting all four to do the same again in 2013.
One of those players, however, is not like the other. Andrew Luck statistically is not on the same level as the other three. Kaepernick, Wilson and Griffin all finished the season with passer ratings of 98.3 or higher. Wilson and Griffin both finished among the top five in the NFL in that category. Luck finished the season ranked No. 26 in terms of passer rating with a score of 76.5, slightly behind the 25th rated passer in the league, Blaine Gabbert.
Luck’s shortcomings don’t stop at passer rating. Taking a look at completion percentage, Kaepernick, Wilson and Griffin all completed at least 62 percent of their passes, with Wilson and Griffin finishing in the top ten in that category. Luck finished the year with a 54.1 completion percentage, landing him at No. 31 in the league, just behind Mark Sanchez who completed 54.3 percent of his passes.
Those who try to defend Luck might cite his total passing yards on the year, which is admittedly impressive if that’s all you look at. His 4,374 yards were good enough to land him at No. 7 in the league, trailing only Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford. The difference between Luck and those guys, however, was again the completion percentage. He finished at least five percentage points behind all of them and over ten percentage points behind four of them. He threw 44 more passes than Peyton Manning and still finished with nearly 300 less passing yards.
Basically, Andrew Luck threw for a lot of yards because he threw a lot of passes. That tends to happen.
It’s not as if Luck’s numbers are skewed by a learning curve where he gradually improved as the season went on. If anything, he got worse as the season progressed. Through the first eight games of the season, Luck completed over 56 perent of his passes, reaching the 60 percent mark three times and dipping below 50 percent just once. During the second half of the season and the playoff game against Baltimore, Luck completed only 51 percent of his throws — dipping below 50 percent in four of those games.
To put that in perspective, during the eight-game stretch in 2011 where Tim Tebow led Denver to a 7-1 record, Tebow’s completion percentage dipped below 50 percent five times.
Yesterday, I heard ESPN’s Colin Cowherd say that Andrew Luck was the reason the Colts went from being the worst team in the league to a playoff team. I must respectfully disagree. Although Luck did have some memorable moments and big plays during the season, the numbers tell me that the Colts, led by interim head coach Bruce Arians, turned around their fortunes despite the play of Andrew Luck as opposed to because of it.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JUNE 28, 2013