Luck remains confident in making all throws for Colts
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — After Andrew Luck quickly moved the Indianapolis Colts into position for one final, desperation heave Sunday at Philadelphia, he came out.
With 5 seconds left and Indy at its 46-yard line, coach Frank Reich put in Jacoby Brissett.
In some respects, the move made perfect sense. Brissett had the stronger arm and given the slim chance of winning the game on such a play, it didn’t make sense to risk everything with someone returning from major shoulder surgery.
Soon, the questions started popping up, too, and Luck attempted to put them to rest.
“I know I’m at a level where I can make all the throws and I feel confident that I’m going out there with my full arsenal,” Luck said Wednesday. “I don’t think anything is holding me back. But again you can always get better and I don’t think I’m anywhere near scratching the surface of realizing my full potential.”
Clearly, this has not been the same Luck who started his career with three straight Pro Bowl appearances.
His completion percentage (68.5) through three games would be a career best. His yardage and touchdowns are down slightly, while his interception rate continues to hover at about the same pace. He’s been more efficient on third downs and maybe slightly less efficient in the red zone.
All of those traits showed up in Sunday’s loss at Super Bowl champion Philadelphia, where Luck went 25 of 40 and wound up with 164 yards — more than half of those yards coming on the final two series with Luck attempting to rally the Colts from a 20-16 deficit.
Luck has thrown for fewer than 200 yards 15 times in 73 career starts, though it’s only the fifth time he’s failed to top 200 yards in consecutive games.
Many wonder whether the changes are a result of Reich’s offensive philosophy; limitations on Luck; a series of injuries to Indy’s receiving corps and offensive line; a function of still getting acclimated to this new offense; or some combination.
“I feel free to call anything,” he said. “There’s no doubt there are times when you’re going on the road and you’re in a hostile environment, you might try to get it out early. But you can’t stay in that mode. You can’t play scared.”
The Colts (1-2) insist they’re not playing it safe and point to downfield throws that have been made — just not always converted — including a 33-yard pass interference penalty on the Eagles that set up Indy’s only touchdown at Philly.
Playing two of three road games hasn’t helped, nor has facing three solid pass-rushing teams with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and winless Houston on deck.
Indy could again be missing left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who has yet to play because of an injured hamstring; Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle, one of Luck’s favorite targets who missed last week’s game with a hip injury; and likely right tackle Joe Haeg, expected to miss a couple of weeks after leaving last week’s game with an injured left ankle.
Even Luck showed up on Wednesday’s injury report with a sore groin. But it didn’t keep him out of practice.
None of it has changed Indy’s approach.
“We definitely want more chunk (plays) and we want to be able to — we do take what the defense gives us,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said. “If they are taking away our initial read and we want to push the ball down the field, we want to play smart football.”
Naturally, it was expected Luck would need some time to shake off the rust after missing 26 games over the previous three seasons. But if he and his receivers hooked up on a couple more plays, perhaps he wouldn’t have to answer any questions.
“Honestly, I don’t know if there’s scrutiny or not,” he said. “But I think we, as an offensive unit, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do well, and certainly in the last game we did not do well. The red zone sticks out in my mind more than anything.”
Notes: Running back Marlon Mack (hamstring) and defensive lineman Denico Autry (ankle) did limited work at Wednesday’s practice. ... Defensive linemen Tarell Basham (personal reason) and Hassan Ridgeway (calf) did not practice. Also sitting out were Castonzo, Doyle and Haeg, tight end Eric Ebron (shoulder and knee), safeties Malik Hooker (hip and groin) and Clayton Geathers (knee), and cornerback Quincy Wilson (concussion).