Andrew Luck is the next great quarterback in the NFL. He’s already had a historic season and he’s been in the league for just three years.
Luck led the league in touchdown passes with 40 and was just the ninth player to cross that threshold in NFL history. The only other play with more touchdown passes through three seasons? Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
Yet some people are already concerned with his legacy and question of whether or not he is an”elite” QB in the NFL. Luck’s drawn a lot of praise and there are those who believe that he MUST win on Sunday in order to validate all the praise that has been heaped upon him.
Quite frankly, that is complete bull.
No other QB in the league is currently asked to do as much as Luck. In his three years, Luck has been in the top five in passing attempts twice and was third in 2014 (behind Matt Ryan and Drew Brees who both missed the playoffs).
Luck has led his team to back-to-back division titles and three consecutive 11-5 seasons. He’s done this without a 1,000 yard rusher (or anything resembling a running game), protection issues, and a mediocre defenses.
In a sport that defines teamwork, no other position on the field draws as much praise or criticism as that of quarterback. It is widely seen as the most important position in all of sports, and for a good reason.
A great QB can turn a franchise around. It isn’t even hard to find examples. Look no further than the Colts back in 1998 or 2012. Manning turned a perpetually bad team (minus a few good years) completely around. Luck made sure that Colts fans only had to suffer one awful year before they were back to being a perennial playoff team.
Manning took the Colts to staggering new heights and left big shoes for Luck to fill. To his credit, Luck has accomplished more in his first three seasons than Manning ever did simply by taking the Colts to the playoffs in each year.
Luck has already won two playoff games in that time. Manning didn’t win his first until 2003, in his fourth playoff appearance and sixth year in the NFL.
But Luck can only do so much this Sunday. He could throw six touchdowns, and it might not be enough if the defense can’t get a stop.
This is why talking about “must wins” for a certain player and quarterback wins is pointless. We don’t talk about middle linebacker wins or running back wins (though some have tried), so why single out one player who is only on the field for half the game?
This position is the most important one on the field, but saying a QB has certain record head-to-head with another QB just doesn’t make sense. Not when those two players will literally never be on the field at the same time.
Luck even brought the notion of quarterback wins up earlier this week:
“We face the Broncos, in a sense,” Luck said following the Bengals win. “I’ve never been into the quarterback-versus-quarterback thing, you know, we’re not on the field at the same time. But I have a lot of respect for (Manning) obviously. What he does, what he still does, is amazing. He’s a stud, but I’ll worry about the Denver defense. That’s what I’ve got to worry about.”
For all the importance and pressure on Luck, he can only accomplish so much. This season isn’t pointless if the Colts lose on Sunday, there are 24 other teams in the league that would love to trade places with the Colts and fans bases that would kill for just a playoff berth.
Luck’s career doesn’t need to be validated in a game where his team is a heavy underdog and most of the pressure is on his team’s defense. NFL legacies are all about rings, but not winning one in his third season in the league with a flawed team shouldn’t be held against him.
Luck doesn’t have to validate what the talking heads are saying about his career. Just because his coach, Chuck Pagano, thinks he could be the greatest QB of all time doesn’t mean he has something else to prove (and really, what do you expect his coach to say? “Yeah, he’s alright I guess.”).
Luck is setting a very high bar for his career. He’s not the best QB in the league, but he’s certainly near the top.
Luck is worthy of all the praise he’s given and has nothing to prove on Sunday against the Broncos.