EDIT: Andrew Luck is not expected to play today against the Jaguars
The Colts have had some bad Luck this season.
Indianapolis is 1-2 to start the season, stealing their only victory with late-game heroics in Tennessee last week. That win did not come without a price. After three weeks in which Andrew Luck has been hit 59 times, he is listed as questionable on the injury report with a shoulder injury. Coach Chuck Pagano believes Luck will play, but the Colts can’t afford to take health risks while playing two games in four days.
If Luck can’t play, it’s up to veteran Matt Hasselbeck to start for the Colts. Hasselbeck, who recently turned 40, hasn’t started a game since November of 2012. He’s certainly accomplished, but surely Pagano would much rather have Luck taking the snaps no matter how bad he’s been recently.
1. The Injury Occurred Last Week vs. Tennessee
The Colts, not just Luck, were battered and bruised last week in Nashville. They emerged victorious, but only after a series of errors from the Titans allowed Indianapolis one lasy chance.
The comeback tarted with Luck, who had contributed to the deficit with 2 interceptions. He got one back with just over six minutes left, throwing a jump ball to Philip Dorsett and letting his rookie make a play. Up two scores in the fourth quarter, Marcus Mariota and the Titans took over. Mariota, who would set a Titans rookie record with 367 passing yards, made his biggest NFL mistake to date. A long attempt to Wright was intercepted, breathing life into the Colts. Luck wasted no time, and quickly found Dante Moncrief on a fade for 6. When he reached the sidelines, he took a friendly pat on the chest from Matt Hasselbeck. Look at Luck’s reaction when he got hit:
Luck was in obvious pain, and soldiered through for his team. That is why many expect him to do the same Sunday against Jacksonville.
2. Luck Has Started Every Game Since Being Drafted
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. If Luck were to sit this week, it would be his first missed start in the NFL. Luck has started 51 straight regular season games for the Colts since being selected first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is 34-17 in that span, with 91 touchdowns and 50 interceptions. This season he has thrown seven interceptions through the first three games.
Should Luck be benched, Matt Hasselbeck is one of the league’s top backup quarterbacks. Jacksonville has a solid defensive front, and the shoulder is a delicate injury for a quarterback. With Jared Odrick this week and J.J. Watt looming on Thursday, the Colts line better shape up fast regardless of who is taking the snap.
3. Indy Has Been Shuffling Their O-Line
Andrew Luck hasn’t magically become terrible overnight. He’s thrown interceptions in bunches before, but Luck’s pocket presence is different this season. He hasn’t been sacked much, but the 59 QB hits are second in the NFL only to Washington. Luck has attempted 116 passes, and he’s been hit 59 times.
The Colts made several line changes after their loss to the Jets on MNF. Luck was still battered against the Titans, but at least he was able to salvage a win. At this point the blame might have to fall with GM Ryan Grigson, who is reportedly feuding with Pagano. The Colts haven’t taken care of their line, and now they are paying the consequences.
4. Luck Has Been Limited at Practice
When Andrew Luck is injured, things get weird at Colts practice.
Luck didn’t throw in an open session Wednesday, which was the first serious red flag to Luck’s health. As with most stories in the NFL, people didn’t really take notice until Adam Schefter got involved.
To make matters worse, Luck didn’t even practice Friday. Oh, and the Colts signed Josh Johnson. The signs are there. Luck will test out his shoulder before the game, but the Colts will most likely wait as long as possible before declaring him inactive.
5. Matt Hasselbeck is the Backup QB
At 40 years old, Matt Hasselbeck may be called upon to fill in for Luck Sunday. Hasselbeck hasn’t started since 2012, but he has appeared in over 200 games with four teams. Given the current state of the Colts, expect to see lots of short passing and Frank Gore if Luck is unable to play.
If Luck needs additional time, will new signing Josh Johnson get a look? Probably not. Most teams keep only two quarterbacks on their roster, so the move for Johnson was more out of security than necessity. Hasselbeck will start until Luck is healed, and should have success downfield against weaker secondaries on the immediate schedule.