10-4 last week, 65-55 overall
Mark Sanchez came into the league and won four road playoff games in two years. Joe Flacco hasn’t missed the playoffs since he’s been in the league. Matt Ryan has only missed the playoffs once. Robert Griffin is the toast of the endorsement market, and playing well within himself. Matthew Stafford has a 5,000 yard season. Tim Tebow has a playoff win. Josh Freeman isn’t in rehab yet. There’s alot to like about young quarterbacks in this league, and perhaps there’s been so much of it lately that it overshadows just how NFL-ready and competent Andrew Luck has been through just half a season. So much so, I think, that nobody’s thinking of them as real title contenders, and I think this post should elucidate that the Colts are very much for real in 2012.
You have to remember why the Colts were built around Peyton Manning even on the defensive side of the ball to see their formula for success, and Luck replacing Peyton fits in way better on an immediate basis than you might think. The Colts were built for Peyton Manning to take an early lead to the point where the opponent was forced to throw at the rate he does, and not nearly with the regular success he had. Indy’s defensive line is identical to those glory days. Mathis, Freeney and Redding are all still there up front, a defensive line based on speed over brute strength, with the sole goal of giving a QB under 2.5 seconds to throw under any circumstances.
Secondly, a nice complement to your own pass rush is deep accuracy. Firstly, Andrew Luck’s greatest quality out of the box is his pocket presence. He has it beyond his years: those subtle movements forward when the edge rushers are finding him, slinking his shoulders while keeping his feet set, are things players 4-5 years in the league still don’t have down. Secondly, Bruce Arians has not been afraid of opening things up with him as a rookie. Andrew Luck is 4th in the NFL in passing yards, and LEADS the LEAGUE in completions of 20 yards or more… as a rookie…
How in the name of Eating Fresh has this gone by so quietly?
Thirdly, even though Luck’s success has been relatively quiet, his name recognition has masked just how good the rest of this draft has been. T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Vick Ballard, Dwayne Allen and Lavon Brazill have been immediate contributors on offense. How many times have 6 offensive skill players in the same NFL draft for the same team had an impact? Ever? This thing is quietly building, and the guys who chose to stay now look brilliant in doing so. We’re rightful to have been skeptical of the Colts turning around this quickly and not picking them to make the postseason. I’m just not so sure we were right.
The 5-3 Colts shouldn’t be ignored, and when they beat on the Jaguars tonight in Jacksonville, the 6-3 Colts can no longer be ignored. Of all the teams that are in the wild card mix, Indy is the one we almost are SURE will get better as the season wears on because these six rookies will all get better. Look out. Colts 23, Jaguars 14.