While much was done to improve the offensive line’s pass protection this offseason, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is still under considerable duress in the pocket.
According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck remains the highest pressured passer in the NFL despite the franchise attempting to shore up the offensive line this offseason:
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Colts QB Andrew Luck has been under pressure on 42.3% of his dropbacks this season — the highest rate in the NFL pic.twitter.com/224ju76B6B
Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) gets rid of the ball before being tackled by San Diego Chargers safety Adrian Phillips (31) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats San Diego 26-22. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
In their defense, the Colts offensive line has improved from last season. Kelly has certainly helped to solidify the interior of the offensive line, while Good has provided a physical force in the trenches alongside him that the team simply lacked prior.
Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) makes a call over center Ryan Kelly (78) in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
While Reitz has struggled a bit from his usual solid standards at starting right tackle, this offensive line does look better collectively.
It’s been more of an issue of having to run into superstar sackmaster Von Miller and the Denver Broncos ferocious pass rush in Week 2, only to then lose their starting right offensive line–namely Good and Reitz to injuries last week.
The result was that two rookies Kelly and Haeg played in all 71 of the offense’s snaps, while at one point with a late game injury to starting left guard Jack Mewhort, Blythe even came in to play 4 snaps–meaning that 3 of the team’s offensive lineman were rookies.
It doesn’t matter how polished and poised the Colts rookies are, when 3 of your offensive lineman are rookies, that’s not exactly a recipe for sustained success. They’re still rookies after all and will make occasional mistakes.
Nevertheless, Haeg didn’t exactly play like a rookie, making the difficult switch from right guard to tackle in-game and holding his own, while Kelly remains rock solid for the Colts at starting center.
That being said, as indicated by Luck being pressured on 42.3% of his dropbacks this season, there’s still considerable work to be done along the Colts offensive line going forward.
Having had Luck miss 9 games last season because of injuries, keeping #12 healthy and upright is of the utmost importance. Additionally, it also affords the team’s top deep threats, T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett, more time to get down the field in order to make plays–both keys to the Colts offense.