After making the playoffs in 12 out of 13 seasons, the Indianapolis Colts fell on hard times. The Colts have missed the postseason in each of the last three seasons which included going 4-12 in 2017. A big reason for this was that the Colts have not a healthy Andrew Luck at quarterback. After going 11-5 in each of his first three seasons with the Colts which included a trip to the AFC Championship Game in 2014, the injury bug has bitten Luck.
Luck had been hampered by a shoulder injury which saw him only appear in 22 games over the past three years for the Colts which included missing the entire 2017 National Football League season altogether. At one point Luck’s shoulder injury saw him travel to Europe to receive therapy, and for the longest time he didn’t even throw a football as the once golden arm of the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft appeared to be a thing of the past.
However things would begin to look up for Luck this past February when the Colts (who after being spurned at the last minute by New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) would hire Frank Reich to be their new head coach.
Reich spent 14 years as a quarterback in the National Football League which included orchestrating the largest playoff comeback in league history when he brought the Buffalo Bills back from a 32-point deficit in the 1992 playoffs. Since 2008, Reich was an offensive assistant coach for several teams in the NFL which included being the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles when they won the Super Bowl last season.
Reich was brought to Indianapolis for one thing, and he doing just that which is to fix Luck.
Through 13 games this year Luck is completing nearly 68% of his passes, while he has also thrown 34 touchdowns. And the zip on Luck’s fastball that some people questioned at the beginning of the year is beginning to come back as he is getting the football down the field more to the likes of wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
Luck’s turnaround has resulted in the Colts becoming one of the hottest teams in the National Football League as after beginning the year with a record of 1-5, they have won six of their last seven games to put themselves in playoff contention. Included in the Colts reversal of fortunes this season are wins over each of their AFC South rivals which included today’s 24-21 road victory over the Houston Texans. And the victory over the Texans ended their nine-game winning streak, while it also boosted the Colts playoff chances as their is a logjam in the AFC for the final wild card spot.
With Reich’s guidance, Luck looks like a different quarterback, and I’m not just referring to the physical. Mentally Luck appears to be in a much better place as he is playing with a confidence that we’ve not seen since collegiate days with the Stanford Cardinal when he was under the tutelage of head football coach Jim Harbaugh. Luck is more relaxed as he is getting the football out quicker, while he is also more sure off himself. This can also be attributed to Luck playing with a better offensive line in front of him as he has only been sacked 16 times compared to 41 times in 2016.
Reich was just what the doctor ordered for Luck as he is the antithesis of the Colts former head coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano was a defensive-minded coach who relied on Luck to do everything in order to get the Colts a victory, while Reich is someone that the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback can relate to being that he played the position.
Reich and Colts general manager Chris Ballard have learned in a hurry from the mistakes of the previous regime with this franchise as they know that one man cannot do it by himself as he is only as good as the team that is around him, and it’s showing up with a rejuvenated Luck.