The Colts completely wasted Andrew Luck’s prime and hosed their fans in process

The biggest commodity in all of soccer, and possibly all of sports activities, is a franchise quarterback. A franchise in possession of 1 has an opportunity to win a Super Bowl. If there have been sports activities crimes, losing the prime years of a franchise quarterback could be up there because the worst. And if there have been sports activities jail, the Indianapolis Colts could be heading there for all times, as a result of they’ve supremely wasted the prime of Andrew Luck, a generational franchise quarterback who was gifted to them on a platter.

Luck was positioned on injured reserve Thursday, ending his 2017 season earlier than it started and now, regardless of optimism from Luck, we’re confronted with severe questions on his long-term well being and future as an NFL quarterback. 

How Luck got here to Indy is, nicely, luck: Peyton Manning (their outdated franchise quarterback) wanted to take the 2011 season off with neck accidents. The Colts secured the highest choose within the 2012 NFL Draft and have been handed Luck, one of the gifted and clever quarterbacks to enter the NFL over the previous 20 years. 

Getting Luck is like getting a high-paying authorities job. You seize that factor with all of your may and make somebody pry it out of your cold-dead fingers. Protect it along with your life. The whole premise of constructing the Colts roster ought to have been centered on one singular query: “How do you help and protect Andrew?” At all prices, the Colts needed to be sure that Luck stayed wholesome and that he had weapons round him. 

“Your job is to protect the franchise. Everything else is superfluous,” former Colts normal supervisor Bill Polian mentioned Thursday after the information broke that Luck was headed for injured reserve. “That wasn’t the case when Andrew first came in there and that contributed to this.”

Credit then-GM Ryan Grigson for locating a few weapons. T.Y. Hilton was a superb selection in the identical draft. Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen appeared like viable weapons as nicely. Remove all credit score for the offensive line, nonetheless. The Colts tried, I suppose — they drafted a deal with within the seventh spherical in 2012, took Hugh Thornton (third) and Khaled Holmes (fourth) in 2013, Jack Mewhort (second) in 2014 and Ryan Kelly (first) in 2016. 

You can quibble aggressively with the standard of the choices; whiffing on Bjoern Werner in 2013, Trent Richardson (through commerce!) in 2014 and Philip Dorsett in 2015 as first-round picks will not be controversial when it comes to disastrous decision-making that straight impacted the quarterback’s capability to do his job and to remain wholesome. 

Maybe there may be even a case that the Colts had issues heading in the right direction. Luck registered a profession excessive in landing pbades (40) and a profession low in sacks (27) in 2014 whereas making his third straight Pro Bowl to begin his profession. The Colts have been a stylish Super Bowl choose and Luck was one of many preseason front-runners for MVP. 

That’s when the Colts actually bungled issues. Three video games into the 2015 season, issues got here off the rails when Luck suffered a shoulder damage in opposition to the Titans. This is the damage Luck remains to be coping with — he suffered it 15 days after he turned 26 years outdated. Now, greatest case state of affairs, he isn’t going to play till round or about Sept. 9, 2018, three days earlier than he turns 29 years outdated. 

The Colts have successfully set Andrew Luck’s athletic prime on hearth. 

Comparing the Colts’ stats from 2012-14 in opposition to ’15-17 is extraordinarily sobering. Via NFL Research



Win-loss file



Playoff appearances



Point differential



Andrew Luck video games missed



*Worth noting that the Colts may make the playoffs this season. (Spoiler: They will not.)

**Luck will even have missed 27 video games by the point the Colts end the 2017 season. 

This will not be a “QB wins” state of affairs both. This is a couple of soccer staff propped up by the quarterback for a lot too lengthy. It was the case beneath Manning for a few years (once more, see 2011) and it has been the case with Luck. 

Back to the borderline malpractice challenge at play right here. Luck suffered the damage early within the 2015 season. It is tough to argue the shoulder damage didn’t create a cascading impact on his physique too. Anyone who has a again or foot damage is aware of about overcompensation to battle the ache. The physique does bizarre issues. Luck’s stats went within the tank in 2015 as he struggled with an damage to his throwing shoulder. 

And he battled a litany of accidents that season, together with a lacerated kidney and an belly tear. Those accidents occurred Nov. eight, 2015, and have been akin to Luck being concerned in a automotive crash. It was reported that, after lacking simply two video games with the shoulder damage, Luck was nonetheless coping with ache and that he was battling a cartilage tear as nicely. Luck shouldn’t have been on the sphere on the time. 

The Colts did him a disservice by permitting him to play. Both Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano have been on the new seat and it makes you surprise if there was a stress to place him on the market. After the season, it was a shock when proprietor Jim Irsay determined to not hearth Grigson and/or Pagano. It was typically reported that season that the coach and the GM have been working with separate agendas and fearful about their very own jobs. You have a look at it two years eliminated and it’s tough to think about them having their younger quarterback’s long-term pursuits at coronary heart. It’s the character of the NFL, but it surely’s not how high quality organizations function. 

The Colts finally shut him down after the extra accidents, however elected to have Luck rehab in between the 2015 and ’16 seasons as an alternative of present process surgical procedure. By April 2016, Luck was nonetheless admitting publicly that he was not utterly wholesome and that he nonetheless had “some work to do.”

Two months later, in June 2016, the Colts would reward Luck with a blockbuster contract. Good on Luck for getting it on the time — it was a no brainer deal as a result of nobody thought he was nonetheless injured. I wrote about his contract when he signed it and did not point out his shoulder as soon as

There wasn’t any cause to fret, as a result of everybody badumed the Colts and the docs concerned have been caring for Luck. Luck himself mentioned he felt “as good as I’ve ever … felt going into a training camp” earlier than the 2016 season. 

And then Luck appeared on the Week 1 damage report. Major crimson flag there. A much bigger crimson flag? The Colts entrance workplace and training workers flat-out lied to the media in regards to the state of affairs. 

Pagano mentioned on the time that “Andrew is fine,” an empirically false badertion in hindsight.

Grigson was even worse, getting defensive about folks questioning whether or not Luck was wholesome. Grigson identified that “people don’t have a league-wide perspective” on how damage experiences work and that individuals have been wanting “for something that’s not there.”

“No. He’s all good. I mean the guy’s thrown a zillion balls. The media’s seen it. [He was] in Anderson day in and day out throwing a ton of balls with a lot of velocity — even knocking some guys over,” Grigson mentioned. “I don’t know. I guess you could sit there and look for something that’s not there, but I’m just saying he’s going to be ready for the game this weekend, and we have a plan that we think’s best for him, and one he feels good about, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Spoiler: Something was there. 

Another crimson flag got here from Jim Irsay in October 2016 when he identified there have been “no surgeries planned” and that Luck’s shoulder damage “just disappears into the woodwork when he wins his next MVP or Super Bowl.” That’s not how accidents, MVP awards or Super Bowl victories work. At all.  

Luck would truly play all however one recreation in 2016 and play fairly nicely (31 touchdowns to 13 interceptions). He missed a Thanksgiving blowout loss to the Steelers with a concussion, however the Colts mentioned he would have performed if the sport was Sunday that week. (Which, frankly, is one other large crimson flag.) He was hardly ever a full participant in Colts practices and constantly battled accidents, together with: “right shoulder, right elbow, right thumb, left ankle and a concussion.” According to Pro Football Focus, Luck was probably the most pressured quarterback in soccer final season, coming beneath hearth for a whopping 44.four p.c of his dropbacks.

So let’s pause actual fast and catch up right here. The Colts did a horrible job surrounding Luck with expertise on the offensive line, put him in a drama-heavy state of affairs the place the teaching workers and entrance workplace weren’t on the identical web page and allowed him to maintain taking part in by way of fairly extreme accidents, not simply inside the course of a season however over the course of a number of seasons. Oh, and the GM mentioned he could not construct a correct protection as a result of of the contract he gave Luck. 

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

One day after the 2016 season, Luck instructed followers to not fear about his shoulder. . Don’t fear, season ticket holders who could be contemplating whether or not to pay enormous sums of cash for the 2017 season, Luck will likely be again. 

Andrew recovering from profitable outpatient surgical procedure to repair proper shoulder damage that had lingered since 2015. Will be prepared for season!

— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 19, 2017

Two days later, Grigson was fired as GM. That timing may greatest be described as … odd.

You know what’s occurred since. The damage was dealt with with a disturbing quantity of nonchalance all through the offseason. The Colts saved appearing like Luck could be prepared for Week 1 (!?!) and by no means put him within the PUP checklist simply in case he may come again earlier than Week 6. Pagano dominated Luck out every Monday, with the Colts ostensibly saying he wasn’t actually shut whereas nonetheless dangling the concept of him returning to the general public in a imprecise method every week. A late September dialogue about Luck returning to follow feels laughable now, though he did get again with the staff and start throwing. 

Then Luck suffered a setback and right here we’re, going through a misplaced season within the prime of a doubtlessly nice quarterback’s profession. 

Expect the Colts to downplay the long-term considerations for Luck and to politely insist it is time to transfer ahead and to not fear about what occurred previously with their quarterback’s shoulder. “Stick to the process and keep working.””You’re dealt the hand you’re dealt.” Stuff like that — oh wait, these are issues Pagano truly mentioned.

Do not allow them to off the hook right here. This is a staff that was gifted 13 years of a Hall of Fame quarterback and instantly handed the most effective quarterback prospect of a era the next 12 months. Indy was arrange for an additional 10 to 15 years of success within the AFC South. If you need a visible, football-based badogy for a way the Colts dealt with this, nicely, I’ve simply the play for you:


through NFL Broadcast

They botched this past comprehension. 

It speaks to organizational failure and dysfunction. The normal supervisor was almost fired, then not, then was. The coach has survived a number of seasons of incredulous resolution making regardless of additionally almost getting fired. The proprietor too ceaselessly acts on a whim. The Colts aren’t required to be forthcoming about all the pieces occurring with their group and their quarterback, however followers ought to really feel misled. Luck going to injured reserve is based on a “setback” but it surely certain looks like it is a state of affairs the place the Colts, in the event that they weren’t involved about folks trying out early on, may have been extra cautious about their public prognosis for Luck. 

There will likely be loads of discuss how Luck was “too aggressive” on the sphere at occasions and did not keep away from contact. There is a little bit fact to that, but it surely feels a little bit like sufferer blaming — Luck was shoved right into a place the place he was requested to raise his staff too ceaselessly. If he did not do the issues he did, folks would query his toughness. The Colts may have merely been a purposeful group and he could be superb. Do not permit that spin zone to exist. 

There is just one actuality right here, and it is that the Colts unequivocally took a golden alternative to maintain a decade’s price of success going and handled it with all of the care that Pagano treats objective line challenges.

At the top of the day, the Colts are doing the suitable factor by shutting Luck down and specializing in the longer term, nonetheless murky it could be proper now. Unfortunately shutting Luck down is the choice they need to have made two years in the past and hindsight goggles aren’t even required — just a bit little bit of frequent sense and a modicum of accountable remedy towards a franchise quarterback.

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