Second-guessing of Andrew Luck era still lingers, but shouldn’t
After seven games featured in a gauntlet disguised as a schedule, Peyton Manning is putting together one of the best years of his legendary career.
Manning’s numbers through eight weeks? First in passer rating (109.0), third in touchdowns (17), fourth in percentage (68.5), first in average yards per pass (8.2), and second in yards per game (301.9). He’s not only on pace for his best year since the record-breaker in 2004, but he’s also staring down a fifth MVP award.
And then there’s the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Andrew Austen Luck. The fourth quarter wizard, as I have christened him.
His stats may not be Manning-esque, but in only seven games, Luck has two fourth quarter comeback wins and three game-winning drives. These are the stats beyond the stats, and as a result, the Colts are 4-3 and contending for a wild-card berth.
But even with Luck’s outstanding rookie effort, and the fact that he has put together more wins through seven games than Manning did as a rookie with, arguably, a less talented supporting cast, the doubters of the Luck era, or strictly Peyton Manning fans, still linger.
“[The Colts] would be 7-0 with Peyton,” said one unnamed Twitter user.
Maybe, but who knows? If Manning stays, this team and staff looks vastly different.
I’ll be the first to say that I initially had serious doubts about moving on from #18. Luck was not the end-all, be-all of QBs, as shown by a very strong ’12 QB draft class, and Manning had proven that he was making significant strides towards a legitimate comeback. He may have been in the twilight of his illustrious career, but you never shut the door on Peyton Manning. Never.
Just ask the Chargers.
And when the announcement was finally made, and Manning appeared in that final Colts press conference, you could feel a cloud of gloom hovering above Colts Nation. The legend was finished in Indy.
But the Colts weren’t.
As a kid, I had grown to love this franchise, mainly because of the 13 brilliant years that were fueled by #18. I had my qualms about a future without the greatest QB of all time, but I was not less of a Colts fan, simply because he was gone. Favorite Colts had left before—Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison—but the team remained.
As time progressed, the launch of Chuck Pagano’s “Build the Monster” era included a clear and refreshing direction for Indy. Manning would ultimately join a team where he would be given his best shot at another ring, and Luck has so far delivered on the prodigy label that was attached to him by every pundit and scout on the face of the Earth—a win-win for everyone.
Manning and Luck will forever be compared, and rightfully so. But as evidenced by the remarkable efforts of both in their own respective way, it’s only more evident that this was the right decision.
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