Colts at Panthers: Next Day Reaction


We don’t overreact at Horseshoe Heroes. We’re here to give you a realistic breakdown of the Colts after each and every game.

It’s time to have a serious talk about what is wrong with Andrew Luck. Is he hurt? Is he not being coached or not listening to coaches? Is it his line not protecting him or receivers not getting open? Or is he just mentally broken?

This is the sort of baffling play we’ve seen from Luck:

I’m not ready to give up on Luck. His first three seasons were literally historic and that wasn’t an accident. There is a reason every scout in the country said he was the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning and this season is not indicative of someone who was poised to jump into the quarterbacking elites in the country.

For three quarters last night, fans and reporters alike were dumping on Luck. He was simply awful. He made bad reads, forced the ball, and was inaccurate with his passes.

Luck spent the offseason talking about cutting down on the turnovers, not pressing or forcing passes, and throwing the ball away or dumping down to a safe option. So far this season, his biggest flaws have been magnified as he appears to be doing the exact opposite of those things.

If he’s hurt, then it would be easy to explain all of these issues. A sore shoulder would explain why he is aiming his passes and rib injuries (which really, really suck) would account for most of the other issues. But he’s making a ton of mental mistakes that are simply baffling. His first and last interceptions were inexcusable. A forced third down pass in the first quarter and another to a well covered receiver? Why?

Those are the kinds of mistakes that should be eliminated in a film study, especailly for someone as intelligent and talented as Luck is. But it really doesn’t feel like the coaches are working to correct those mistakes. They’re not running an offense that makes things easier for Luck (like say a no-huddle, hurry up like they used to get 17 points to tie the game up) and keep running plays the team can’t execute (like screens).

So why did Luck start playing well with 10 minutes left in regulation? For one, the monsoon in Charlotte finally let up a bit, not a big factor but certainly can’t be discounted. Two, the Colts played that up tempo style, mainly because they had to (but should do it more often). Three, the Panthers defense let up and played more of a prevent style defense giving the Colts receivers more space to operate.

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Here is the issue with Luck, as I see it. He’s gotten gun-shy from three plus years of bad protection and it is affecting his pocket presence. The vertical passing attack doesn’t do him any favors either as it forces him to hold the ball longer when they need quicker passing options for Luck to get the ball out faster (a quick pass is better than any offensive line). The defense has been mediocre to bad every year which puts more pressure on Luck and has him pressing with every drop back, thinking he has to score on every drive.

Couple all of that with a seeming lack of development from the coaches, the turmoil from the top of the organization on down, and an insane amount of pressure from Jim Irsay to win a Super Bowl and the franchise becomes a complete mess.

We might find out that Luck played all season long badly hurt, and the Colts might still win the worst division in football (possibly ever) but it all looks bad right now and it won’t get any easier in the next few weeks.

Normally this is where I’d have bullet points about the game, but outside of Luck there isn’t much to say about the team. Special teams were great as Quan Bray did a nice job returning kickoffs and T.Y. Hilton did a good job hanging onto punts in horrible conditions. Adam Vinatieri apparently doesn’t age, and kudos to ESPN for trolling Panthers with footage of Super Bowl 38 and his game winning kick.

Field position was awful and ruining the Colts defense. Turnovers are a killer, but even more so when they occur on the wrong side of the field. 26 of the Panthers 29 points occurred on drives starting inside the Colts 40-yard line. The defense was basically put in a no-win situation time after time last night and it has been a theme all season long. This defense isn’t terrible, but made to look so much worse when they basically need a turnover to prevent any points on almost every opponent’s drive.

The Colts are going to find new depths for failure in the next three weeks too. They’ve got the undefeated Broncos at home, who just dominated Aaron Rodgers. Then the Bye Week (which will somehow result in another loss for the Colts) followed by a trip to face a very talented Falcons team (at least offensively). Then they return to face the dregs of the NFL. A .500 record to end the season is very possible.