Colts’ Luck searching for solutions to stop sudden slide
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck keeps searching for answers to a confounding slump.
He can’t explain the inaccuracy. He refuses to blame a shoulder injury. And he can’t seem to find a way out.
It’s made Luck, who was widely considered the best young quarterback in football when the season began, look no better than ordinary in 2015.
”I think any time the ball is entrusted in your hands you have a certain responsibility,” Luck said Wednesday. ”I had a college coach who used to say, `When you have that ball imagine every face of the guys on your team is on that ball.’ It’s sort of the team’s ball and you’re entrusted to take care of it in that sense.”
Luck’s productivity has.
After missing the first two games of his career with a sore throwing shoulder, Luck returned against New England and played a good first half. In the six quarters since, he reverted to his early-season form – missing throws, taking hits, failing to pick up first downs and turning the ball over.
At times this season, he has looked as bad as he ever has, and not surprisingly, the Colts (3-4) have followed Luck’s lead.
Indianapolis has lost back-to-back games for only the third time in Chuck Pagano’s 3 1/2-year tenure and is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak under the heavily scrutinized coach. The Colts have already lost more home games this season (three) than they did in any of the previous three, and they’re 0-4 outside the terrible AFC South.
Next up is a Monday night trip to Carolina (6-0), followed by a short week to prepare for Peyton Manning and the unbeaten Broncos (6-0). Then comes a bye, which may finally give everyone a badly need respite.
Those inside the complex insist Luck isn’t the only problem.
”I think the whole `Andrew’s poor play’ story is overblown,” said tight end Coby Fleener, who also was Luck’s teammate at Stanford. ”I think you get a lot of the highs and lows as a quarterback. But I think a lot of guys, including myself, need to do a better job of making him look good.”
Outside those walls, the public discussion has largely turned to Luck’s health and an offensive line that has already allowed 15 sacks and dozens more hits.
Luck said he was injured on one those hits during a Sept. 27 come-from-behind victory at Tennessee.
But Luck has been off all year. In the season opener at Buffalo, Luck was 26 of 49 with 243 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and one fumble lost. He was even picked off on an uncharacteristically underthrown deep ball to T.Y. Hilton.
The miscues haven’t stopped.
Despite playing only five games, Luck is tied for third in the NFL with nine interceptions and is 30th in passer rating. The numbers and eye test have some fans now questioning whether Luck is still hurt.
Inside the team’s headquarters, there’s no debate between playing Luck or 40-year-old backup Matt Hasselbeck, who was 2-0 in Luck’s absence.
”He (Hasselbeck) did some nice things, he did some good things,” Pagano said. ”We all know that our starting quarterback has done some great things. Let’s not be too quick to judge and get ready to do whatever. Twelve (Luck) is going to be fine, and we’re going to be fine.”
The other concern is whether Luck is trying to do too much.
He has repeatedly said the Colts must be sharper in practice to improve on game day and that the team needs to keep working hard to get out of its funk.
Luck might not be the only one pressing.
”I think we’re all doing that,” Hasselbeck said. ”You see it everywhere. You see guys doing things outside their technique, outside their assignment. That’s good because it means they care and they want to be the guy.”
And it’s bad because it can put players in the wrong places to make ordinary plays. That might explain why Indianapolis has gone from projected Super Bowl contender to speculation about a midseason coaching change in just two months.
What they really need, though, is a little good luck.
”I realize I’ve got to play better and (make) way less mistakes,” Luck said. ”Hopefully that gives our unit a better chance to succeed."
NOTEES: Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, but Pagano said he expected Adams to return to the field Thursday and that he would play Sunday.
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