MNF Week 6: The Rise of Andrew Luck

Luck win

Andrew Luck is a star. He was born to be a star and he was bred to be a star. Ever since he was a junior at Stanford, he’s been touted the next big star in the NFL. No, he didn’t win a Heisman like Robert Griffin III did. No, he never won a National Championship like Cam Newton did. But ask any NFL scout, GM or head coach, and they’ll tell you if they had to do the 2012 NFL Draft over again, they all would have done exactly what the Indianapolis Colts did and take Luck over RG3.

And if Luck hadn’t turned down the draft to return for his junior season, he almost certainly would have been taken by the Carolina Panthers 1st overall instead of Newton.

I’m not here to open up the Luck vs. RG3 argument (which is no longer an argument) so if that’s what you’re here for, you can stop reading. Last season during Luck's rookie year, he was overshadowed by RG3 and the shiny new read option.

Now in his second year, Luck looks to be separating himself from the rest of his young quarterback class.

Yet Luck and the Colts finished with a better record. Another thing that had Luck overshadowed by RG3 and even Russell Wilson last season was the Colts' strength of schedule, which was the league's worst. But what never gets mentioned is that Luck was working with a roster that went 2-14 the previous season.

Yes, I know Peyton Manning was gone the whole season and yes, I know that the Colts probably could have won more games with Tim Tebow than Dan Orlovsky at quarterback that season, but that was a weak, WEAK Colts roster.

The Indianapolis organization, led by the mad Tweeter, Jim Irsay, simply tossed the playbook in Luck's lap and told him to lead this ugly roster to the playoffs. And Luck did just that. Sure there were some growing pains along the way (18 interceptions his rookie year), but now in his second year, Luck looks to be separating himself from the rest of his young quarterback class.

The Colts were a popular preseason pick for teams that would regress from their previous season. The strongest point for those arguing was the aforementioned weak strength of schedule. But six weeks into this season and the Colts have notched wins over the 49ers in San Francisco and the Seattle Seahawks.

Another thing to point out is how Luck's efficiency has improved this season and that has greatly contributed to the Colts' success. Indianapolis's 2.9 percent interception rate led to a pass success rate of 45.9 percent last season, which ranked them 17th in the NFL.

This season, Luck has cut his interception rate to 1.7 percent and the Colts' 49.7 pass success rate is ranked eighth. The one thing in the NFL that you absolutely cannot do is turn the ball over and, after last year, it's obvious Luck has received that message loud and clear.

Tonight will be the primetime debut for Luck and I’m going to be very interested to see how he reacts to the spotlight. Judging by his history, though, I would be willing to bet he’s going to be un-phased and will prove himself like he usually does.

5 FOR THE NIGHT

1. Trent Richardson: In an NBA type move, the Colts dealt a first rounder to Cleveland for the Alabama running back taken third overall last year. Richardson has been good for the Colts so far, but after Ahmad Bradshaw went down with a season ending injury, he’s going to become the Colts' feature back.

2. Eddie Royal: Royal had a great start to the year, catching 5 touchdowns in the first three weeks, but hasn’t really been heard from since. The Chargers are going to need to air it out big time tonight if they want to take down the Colts and getting Royal involved should be part of their game plan.

3. Colts WRs: Andrew Luck has done a nice job of finding his main target, Reggie Wayne, this season, but tonight I'd like to see if Luck can incorporate his other targets, mainly Darrius Heyward-Bey. Since T.Y. Hilton gets his fair share of looks, Heyward-Bey deserves his shot. Heyward-Bey was a top-10 pick for the Oakland Raiders and has rarely flashed the potential that he was assumed to have. With a quarterback like Luck, however, we may be able to see how good Heyward-Bey can be.

4. Woodhead or Mathews: The Chargers are definitely a pass-heavy team under new head coach Mike McCoy. Danny Woodhead, a better pass catching running back than Ryan Mathews, has been seeing plenty of playing time as a result. Mathews, however, is the team's leading rusher thus far. Watch to see if McCoy leans one way tonight or continues to split the two running backs' reps.

5. Chargers Fans: A report came out early this week saying ESPN had to purchase over 9,000 tickets to tonight’s game to prevent it from being blacked out. This is a Monday Night Football game we are talking about. Not some 11:35 pm EST game that over half the country isn’t awake for. Chargers fans, your team may stink, but look around the league. It could be A LOT worse.

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