Luck focuses on turning things around after turnover trouble
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck blames himself for the Colts’ early woes and believes he’s the one most responsible for finding the solution.
Two days after throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in a 20-7 loss to the New York Jets, Luck walked into the locker room, quickly brushed off critical postgame comments from coach Chuck Pagano and acknowledged Indianapolis’ turnaround begins with him.
”I’ve got to improve. There are no excuses,” Luck said Wednesday. ”I do realize at the end of the game, you’re trying to make something happen and sometimes stuff bounces the wrong way.
”The fumble, the interceptions, I have direct control on what happens with the ball. As a quarterback you do, it’s in your hands. I haven’t made the best decisions and missed some throws.”
It’s a strange spot for Luck, who has almost always been surrounded by success.
The two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up and 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has won 11 or more games in five consecutive seasons and hadn’t lost back-to-back games from 2010 until the second week of the 2014 season.
Now, suddenly, the guy dubbed the league’s best young quarterback has come under heavy scrutiny for Indy’s slow start.
Teammates know there’s more to it than just Luck.
”It’s not ever on one guy, it’s a team sport,” right tackle Jack Mewhort said. ”That’s the attitude you want your quarterback to take and that’s an awesome mentality, but it’s not an individual sport.”
Clearly, Luck has played a part in what’s gone wrong.
He leads the league with five interceptions and his six total giveaways are more than 30 of the other 31 teams in the league. San Diego also has six.
Luck also is ranked No. 34 in NFL passer rating (58.9), and while those numbers are skewed because of the small sample size, his numbers over the past nine games, which included last season’s playoffs, aren’t much better. He’s 184 of 331 for 2,010 yards with 12 TDs, 14 interceptions and overall rating of 68.17 over that span.
But this is about more than numbers.
After Monday’s loss, Pagano called on the Colts (0-2) to make better decisions and cut down the turnovers – a not-so-subtle jab at his quarterback, who is spending this week working on corrections.
Luck didn’t take offense.
”He doesn’t need to clarify any comments that are misconstrued,” he said. ”I think I know where I stand in his mind. I think he knows that I respect the heck out of him. Great coach. Love everything about him as a man, as a coach.”
Regardless of the perceptions off the field, the Colts need a quick fix.
Since 1990, only three 0-3 teams have made the playoffs – the last being Buffalo in 1998. The Colts can avoid that hole by winning Sunday at Tennessee (1-1).
Of course, it’s not just Luck’s fault.
Indy has struggled in pass protection, hasn’t gotten its running game off the ground, hasn’t been able to get its defense off the field consistently and has had way too many drive-killing penalties.
Just two years ago, the Colts were among the NFL’s best at protecting the ball and avoiding penalties.
This season, they’re last in turnover margin at minus-7 and the 11 penalties against New York were every bit as costly as the turnovers.
”We’ve got to get better as a team,” running back Frank Gore said, who fumbled away one scoring chance Monday at the goal line. ”We’ve got to stop hurting ourselves with penalties and we’ve also got to take care of the ball.”
Luck knows he can’t continue to force throws, make bad decisions or try doing too much if he’s going to rally the Colts as he has done many times before.
But he can help get his team out of this funk – and Luck knows it’s going to take everyone to get it right.
”We realize that we’ve got to play cleaner,” Luck said. ”We’ve got to play sharper, and we’ve got to get points on the board if we want to have a legitimate, consistent chance at winning.”
Notes: Indy’s two starting cornerbacks, Vontae Davis (concussion) and Greg Toler (neck), both did light work in Wednesday’s practice. So did outside linebacker Robert Mathis, who has been kept on a pitch count as he returns from a torn left Achilles tendon. … Tight end Dwayne Allen (left ankle), left guard Lance Louis (shoulder) and Indy’s No. 3 cornerback, Darius Butler (hip), all sat out Wednesday. … Outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome returned to the field after missing Monday’s game with an injured hamstring. … Receiver Andre Johnson didn’t practice because he was given an extra day of rest. … Indy released offensive lineman David Arkin from the practice squad and re-signed cornerback Eric Patterson.
AP NFL website: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL