Suck for Luck: Week 9

BY Peter Schrager • November 8, 2011

We knew a dissenting opinion on the Andrew Luck hype machine was bound to emerge at some point. I had my early money on the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock as the first guy to point out the flaws in Luck’s game, though I wouldn’t have been surprised if it came from NFL Films’ tape guru Greg Cosell, or Wes Bunting, the National Football Post’s scouting guru.

But, as the conversation around Andrew Luck reached new decibels after his Herculean effort against USC last weekend in Los Angeles, it was actually Phil Simms who took the first swipe at the seemingly “unswipeable” redshirt junior from Stanford.

Simms was quoted as saying the following in an interview on SiriusXM radio last week: “I just don't see big-time NFL throws. I don't care what anybody says. I've watched a lot of him. He never takes it and rips it in there. And you can say what you want but, man, you’ve got to be able to crease that ball every once in a while.”

The former Giants gunslinger and current CBS analyst continued, "There's not a lot of rotation on the ball and there’s not a tremendous amount of power. Not that you need to have that power arm. I’m not saying you’ve got to have that exclusively but, man, it sure helps when you can do that because there’s four or five plays a game it is about arm strength."

Simms’ comments, though treated with raised eyebrows last week, were just the start of what’s going to be an inevitable avalanche of detractors coming out of the woodwork in the coming months.

Someone will pen a “Matt Barkley will be a better pro than Andrew Luck” column soon. The “Andrew Luck’s the Next Great Quarterback” storyline needs a foil, and the media will make inevitably turn Barkley into that guy, whether he is or isn’t. This happened with Peyton Manning (Ryan Leaf was hyped as “the guy” prior to the ’98 Draft), Matt Ryan (Chad Henne was built up in the months prior to April’s draft), and most recently, Cam Newton (Blaine Gabbert was the top QB on several draftnik’s boards after the combine last February).

Simms’ comments weren’t wrong and his opinion is as valued as any “experts” out there. They also weren’t the end of holes being poked in Andrew Luck’s game. Consider yourselves warned.

Here’s the Suck For Luck Outlook for Week 9:

Suck for Luck, Week 9

Andrew Luck’s Weekend: 20-30, 206 yards, 1 touchdon in a 38-13 win over Oregon State

Luck continued his streak of throwing at least two touchdowns in every game this season and is now just five away from tying John Elway’s Stanford career record of 77 TD passes. Saturday night’s victory marked Luck’s first-ever win in the state of Oregon and he upped his touchdown pass total to 26, six shy of his own school record set last year. The Beavers, having a rare down year, came all the way back from an early 14-point first half deficit to cut the score to 17-13 early in the third quarter, before Luck hit Stefan Taylor and Colby Fleener on consecutive touchdown passes, putting the game out of reach.

Up next: Versus Oregon, Saturday

The Suitors

1. Indianapolis Colts: 0-9

Week 9 performance: Lost to Atlanta 31-7: For as awful as the Colts had been this season, they’d still not lost a home game by double digits before Sundays’ 24-point loss to Atlanta. The Colts offense looked horrendous; the defense was almost worse. They’ve now been outscored 75-14 in the first half of the last three games and 120-24 overall. Indianapolis is the worst team in the league.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Curtis Painter: 13-27, 98 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
the Shelf: Peyton Manning (injured), Kerry Collins (injured), Dan Orlovsky

Would they take Luck? Yes, they’d have to. Whether Peyton Manning is still around to witness the Luck Era or not is an entirely other issue. The word out of Indianapolis last week was that the Polians might have known about Manning’s injury and that huge contract extension he signed this summer was a “parting gift”. Umm, if that’s true, I’d like to know how I can get one of those. Who knows what to believe? Either way, I can’t see the Colts passing on Luck if they’ve got the opportunity to take him in April.

2. Miami Dolphins: 1-7

Week 9 performance: Beat Kansas City 31-3: After back-to-back heartbreaking last minute losses, the Dolphins didn’t leave anything to chance on Sunday, scoring 31 unanswered points in a blowout win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. Phins fans might be “disappointed” over the outcome and how it might impact April’s draft, but they can’t be angry about the way this team continues to fight. It’s a bit absurd to say this, but we’re in Week 10, and the Dolphins are still just 4 games out of first place in the AFC East. Crazier things have happened, right? Well, maybe not.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Matt Moore, 17-23, 244 yards, 3 TDs
On the Shelf: Chad Henne (injured), J.P. Losman

Would they take Luck? Of course they would, but if they continue to play like they did on Sunday, the better question might be “Would they take Barkley or keep Chad Henne?”

3. St. Louis Rams: 1-6

Week 8 performance: Lost to Arizona 19-13 in OT: It’s not often that a team’s defense records two safeties in a game and the squad still finds a way to lose, but that’s exactly what happened with the Rams on Sunday. Sam Bradford returned to the lineup after missing two weeks with an injury, but failed to lead his team to a second straight victory.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Sam Bradford: 23-36, 255 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
On the Shelf: A.J. Feeley, Tom Brandstater

Would they take Luck? No, and that’s more about Sam Bradford’s enormous rookie contract than anything else. Guys like Bradford, Matt Stafford, and Matt Ryan—recent quarterbacks who signed mega-contracts prior to the new CBA rookie wage scale—are pretty much unmovable assets. The Rams love Bradford, anyway. If they were to finish with the worst record in the league, they’d likely trade the pick for multiple first round selections.

4. Arizona Cardinals: 2-6

Week 8 performance: Beat the Rams 19-13: When you’ve got a Patrick Peterson on your team, you’re never entirely out of it. That includes games in which your quarterback leads your team in rushing with 38 yards.

The Quarterbacks
The Guy: John Skelton: 20-35, 222 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
On the Shelf: Kevin Kolb (Injured), Richard Bartel, Max Hall

Would they take Luck? This one would be awfully interesting. Kolb’s contract, something he signed this off-season without many skeptics questioning it, calls for $21 million guaranteed. But is he the face of the franchise? Will he be the guy to take this team back to the Super Bowl? I may be in the minority on this one, but I’m also a huge fan of Luck’s game. I think Arizona would cut its losses with Kolb, but he has been an absolute disaster this season. My colleague Adam Schein blames the offensive line, but I can’t get over how antsy and inaccurate Kolb’s been. In a larger media market, I think there’d be some questions about the trade, itself, and some calls for Richard Bartel. Is one year too early to give up on Kolb? Perhaps. Maybe the Cardinals would be better served trading the pick for six picks and rebuilding that awful offensive line. But if Andrew Luck’s sitting there at number one? I’d find it hard to resist if I’m the Arizona front office brass.

5. Seattle Seahawks: 2-6

Week 8 performance: Lost 23-13 to Dallas: Though the defense stopped the Cowboys three times on the goal line Sunday, the offense didn’t have enough to ensure what would have been a huge road win. Marshawn Lynch had great success, but the passing game was a mess.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Tarvaris Jackson: 17-30, 221yards, 0 TD, 3 INTs
On the Shelf: Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Portis

Would they take Luck? Yes, the Seahawks would take Andrew Luck if they had the first pick in the draft. No brainer, there. The question, in that case, would be whether Pete Carroll would still be around to coach him.

Also in the Running

6. Minnesota Vikings: 2-6
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-6
8. Washington Redskins: 3-5

The Other Guys

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked quarterbacks on my “Big Board”:

3. Matt Barkley, USC: 25-for-39, 318 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT in a 42-17 win over Colorado

4. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: 18for-38, 255 yards, 2 TDs in a 41-25 win over Texas A&M

5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: 36-for-46, 502 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INT in a 59-24 win over Kansas State

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