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Strengths, Weaknesses Of Andrew Luck's Game

Posted Jan 2, 2013

The Colts rookie quarterback threw for more than 4,000 yards, but tossed 19 picks.

Andrew Luck’s praises can be sung for days.

Head Coach John Harbaugh began to go through them Monday afternoon when first asked about the Colts’ rookie quarterback and top overall draft pick.

“He’s a tremendous quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“He is a winner, first of all. His stats are phenomenal. I think he set some rookie passing yard records. You can tell he is very smart. He takes a number of play options to the line as a rookie, which he did at Stanford as well. He’s a Stanford guy – 4.0 [GPA].”

But while it can be easy to forget that Luck is just a rookie, it rears its head every once in a while. Harbaugh pointed that out as well.

“He’s got pluses, and he has things that aren’t so plus,” Harbaugh said. “So, it’s like any quarterback. We’ll be looking forward to playing against him.”

Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses of Luck’s game:


He’s a winner
No rookie quarterback in NFL history has turned his team around the way Luck has. Luck has the most wins by a top quarterback draft pick in the league’s record books. He took the Colts from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 this season. Luck posted the most game-winning drives by a rookie signal caller (7).

Throws for a lot of yards
Luck set the rookie passing record for most yards in a single season with 4,374, surpassing Carolina’s Cam Newton’s mark from last year. Luck threw for the most yards in a single game by a rookie quarterback (433) against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 4. He set the mark for the most 300-plus yard games by a rookie.

Trusted to attack
Despite being a rookie, the Colts aren’t hesitant to attack with Luck. Often, rookies are limited mostly to short and intermediate passes. Luck, however, was tied for fourth in the league in completions over 25 yards with 35. He'll attack downfield. With his smarts, Luck's trusted to read defenses and make changes at the line of scrimmage. The difference is going on the offensive with a rookie instead of just having him manage the game.

Ability to scramble
Luck is no RGIII, but he can move the chains with his legs, and that must be accounted for. His 23 runs for a first down are the fourth most in the league. He has 62 rushes for 255 yards overall. Luck isn’t generally a threat to break a long run (his longest was 19 yards), but he’ll take off if left to do so.


Low completion percentage
Part of the reason Luck throws for a lot of yards is that he attempts a ton of passes. His 627 tosses are the most by any rookie quarterback in NFL history, and fifth most among all quarterbacks this season. However, Luck’s 54.1 completion percentage was the second worst in the NFL this year among starting quarterbacks and below all of his fellow rookie passers.

A lot of interceptions
Luck completes a fair number of passes to the other team. His 18 interceptions were tied for third most in the league along with the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez, and trail only New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Dallas’ Tony Romo with 19. They’ve often come in bunches, as Luck threw three picks in three different games this season. He hasn’t tossed an interception in his past three games, however.

A case of fumblitis
Joe Flacco was criticized this year for his fumbles, but Luck had one more. Luck’s 10 fumbles were tied for fifth most in the league this season. He lost half of them. Luck had a streak of seven straight games with a fumble. But like his interceptions, he hasn't fumbled in the past three weeks.

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