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Old 01-31-2017, 07:48 AM
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sherck sherck is offline
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Default 01. State of the Colts – Quarterback

QBs on the 2017 Roster:

$19.400m cap hit / 27 years old / Free Agent after 2021 / Andrew Luck
$02.000m cap hit / 29 years old / Free Agent after 2017 / Scott Tolzien
$00.540m cap hit / 25 years old / Free Agent after 2018 / Stephen Morris

Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck returned to good….not great form in 2016 after a very disappointing 2015 season which had been cut in half by injury.

Some highlights are that he posted his best completion percentage of his career in 2016 which is an encouraging sign. In fact, if you take out his injury plagued 2015 season, Andrew’s completion percentage per year has only trended up: 54.1% as a rookie, 60.2%, 61.7% and this year’s 63.5%.

In addition, he also protected the ball at the 2nd best rate of his career (inception on 2.38% of his throws versus a 2013 rate of 1.58% of his throws). This is contrasted with 2015 in which he threw an interception on 4.01% of his throws for a career worst.

He only threw for his 3rd highest total number of yards (behind 2012 and 2014) but ended up having his highest “yards per attempt” number of 7.78 because he ended up doing it on fewer throws.

About the only negative of Andrew’s year was that he equaled his career high sack total from his 2012 rookie year with 41…however, he only suffered 10 of them in his final 7 games. His first nine games averaged 3.88 sacks per game but then in the final 7, he suffered sacks at “only” a rate of 1.43 per game. I am not positive what cut the sack rate by more than half whether it was better play on Andrew’s part, better O-Line play, or better play calling with hot reads and quick hitting options (my eye test fails this one) or something else but the trend was very encouraging.

All-in-all, Andrew just about equaled his 2014 QB Rating (96.4 in 2016 vs 96.5 in 2014) which should make Colts fans pretty happy since most consider his 2014 campaign a huge success. He returned to the form that we had seen on him when we had 11 wins and made it to the AFC Championship Game.

IMO, Luck has not yet risen his game to “elite’ QB status. He is still one of the best young QBs in the game and is much of the reason that the Colts have a shot to win just about any game they are in. If you think about the “good/great/elite” QBs in the game, and I am probably grading some of them on a curve, you get (at their age at the start of the 2017 season):

“Old Guard”

40 years old / Tom Brady
38 years old / Drew Brees
37 years old / Carson Palmer, Tony Romo
36 years old / Eli Manning
35 years old / Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers
33 years old / Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith
32 years old / Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco

===================

“Young Guns”

29 years old / Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins
28 years old / Russell Wilson, Cam Newton
27 years old / Andrew Luck
26 years old / Derek Carr, Brock Osweiler
25 years old / Blake Bortles
24 years old / Teddy Bridgewater

Of that “Young Guns” crowd, whom would you want more than Luck? Wilson? Bridgewater? Cousins? Carr?

I had hoped by year five of the Andrew Luck era that he would have performed well enough to be in that “elite” status. However, he has not and I think it is a combination of many factors to include; a terrible offensive game system, a sub-standard offensive line and his own desire to be a long-ball vertical passing threat instead of a WCO thrower.

The nice thing is that all three of those things can be changed under new team management which appears to be coming (if not this year with the HC / coaching staff then probably next year after another failed 2017 campaign). A new coach with more of a WCO mentality that can design plays to be both “quick hitting” and have “long ball possibility” because they actually design different route depths into the SAME play would be incredible. Effective play calling which does not telegraph whether it is a run or a pass would be huge. And, teaching Luck to play better “ball control” passing would be brilliant as well.

I am firmly convinced that Luck has the intellect and skills to become “the’ premier QB in the NFL for the next decade. I just hope that the rest of the team evolves enough both in player skill and design to allow him to do that.

The off-season injury is concerning (as all injuries and surgeries are to pro athletes) and I hope that he recovers fully but if he also had a top ten NFL QB season in 2016 stat wise while playing injured, then I hope that fully recovered Andrew Luck in 2017 can play even more effectively.

Scott Tolzien

Scott will be on the 2nd year of his 2 year contract and delivered some solid backup QB performance at backup QB prices in 2017. In his one start of the year, he went 22 / 36 / 61.1% / 205 yards / 1 TD / 2 INT / 3 sack. Not a stat line that wins games (we did not as it was PIT) but not a stat line that immediately starts the fans howling that we need a new backup QB either. His pre-season performance was solid (41 / 62 / 66.1% / 390 yards / 2 TD / 1 INT / 1 sack) so we know he can throw. All in all, he is fine for 2017 and I hope that someone else is pushing him for that #2 QB slot and that person is….

Stephen Morris

Stephen had a very good pre-season (39 / 61 / 64.9% / 531 yards / 4 TD / 1 INT / 1 sack) while lending some “zing” to otherwise dull end of game pre-season contests. I really felt like he looked “NFL ready” during pre-season and, luckily, we did not have to see him on the field during the regular season. I like him, we have him for a minimum of 2 more years so I will be interested in seeing him perform in 2017.

The bottom line is that our team is designed with Andrew Luck playing QB. If he goes down, it does not really matter who is the backup QB, the Colts are going nowhere. Not paying much for your backup QBs but getting solid NFL play out of them is bonus and that is what the Colts got in 2016 and can look forward to in 2017.

2017 OUTLOOK:

No need to spend any free agency or draft capital on QB for the Colts. Rolling with the same three QBs as last year is a very solid lineup. If Luck goes down for more than a game or three in 2017, it does not matter at all who the backup is; we are dead meat. If a backup is needed for only a short amount of time, then Tolzien and/or Morris can deliver. One of the few position groups on the team that is “set.”

Next up, Running Backs.

Cheers,

Thad
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