Indianapolis Colts Taking Right Steps to Protect Andrew Luck
Much has been made of Robert Griffin III‘s knee and the lack of restraint the Washington Redskins exercised in keeping him out of harm’s way last season. However, what’s been far less publicized is the amount of punishment the Indianapolis Colts allowed their own rookie quarterback to take — more than any passer in the league last year.
Of course, erstwhile offensive coordinator Bruce Arians wasn’t the one holding onto the ball well after the pocket collapsed. Though Arians’ scheme does maximize the threat of longer-developing routes, Andrew Luck must make his own adjustments going forward even with Arians departing for Arizona.
Fortunately, general manager Ryan Grigson entered the offseason with protecting Luck on his mind with an aim to avoid forcing Luck into so many playground-type situations by improving the offensive line.
“Andrew has to get hit less, we know that,” said Grigson, a former offensive lineman, to The Associated Press shortly after season’s end. “Andrew took a lot of shots this year but also keep this in mind, and I say this with a lot of conviction, there was only I believe four games this year where our starting offensive line played together. How can you have a cohesive unit?”
Grigson added guard Donald Thomas and right tackle Gosder Cherilus — who played very well in his contract year for the Detroit Lions — in free agency along with third round guard Hugh Thornton and fourth round center Khaled Holmes through the draft. This should improve upon a pass-blocking grade that ranked them 31st in the league by Pro Football Focus metrics.
New offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton also figures to help get the ball out of Luck’s hand in less dangerous fashion. Luck’s 14 hits while throwing last year tied for most in the NFL with Sam Bradford.