The 2011 season looked doomed from the start for the Indianapolis Colts, with questions surrounding quarterback Peyton Manning’s health after multiple neck surgeries. Manning of course missed the entire season, setting the stage for a 2-14 season and the Colts wound up with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
But fortune smiled on the Colts, as a deep group of quarterbacks gave them a chance to draft another franchise signal caller. That is just what they did, using that top pick on Andrew Luck, who helped lead the team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth last season. Luck took the reigns as a clear team leader for the Colts right out of the gate, and he has to be considered the most irreplaceable player on the team for the coming season.
Indianapolis hired former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to the same post this offseason to replace the departed Bruce Arians. He and Luck worked together in Palo Alto in 2011, and Luck had the season that set him up to be the first overall pick in the following spring’s draft (3,517 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing over 71 percent of his passes).
The one criticism of Luck’s performance last season was an overall lack of efficiency, most notably a completion percentage of just over 54 percent and 18 interceptions, but Hamilton’s desire to bolster the Colts’ rush offense should help those numbers improve in 2013. Luck had the fifth-most pass attempts in the league last year (627), so the likelihood of fewer dropbacks should also reduce the amount of sacks he takes (41, fourth-most in the league).
Most of the league’s 32 teams would be hampered by a significant injury to their starting quarterback, and the Colts are no different. They did add a veteran presence behind Luck by signing Matt Hasselbeck in free agency, but if the soon-to-be 38-year old has to take the field for meaningful snaps Indianapolis’s chances to repeat 2012′s success will take a serious hit.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.