New quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer is thoroughly impressed with the man he’s responsible for developing, but those small changes he needs to make might be the toughest for Andrew Luck.
The Indianapolis Colts spent part of the offseason overhauling their coaching staff and we’ve finally gotten hear from some of these new additions. Speaking to the media, quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer had high praise for Andrew Luck.
Luck is eager to get back on the field after missing nine games with a plethora of injuries in 2015. But it won’t be as simple as just strapping the pads on and tossing the ball around this season. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is installing a new offense and that means a new playbook for Luck and company to learn.
Apparently that hasn’t been much of an issue for Luck, the Stanford graduate with a degree in architecture. (Quotes via the IndyStar)
"“You hear about how smart he is, but you don’t really realize it until you’re in the room and you’re around him,” Schottenheimer said. “Unbelievable football IQ.”“Just the simple call (changes) that we’ve made, he’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve got it,’” Schottenheimer says, snapping his fingers. “That doesn’t happen in every quarterback room around the country.”"
Luck seems to be coming to this season with a renewed vigor. He doesn’t want to repeat the same mistakes from last season. As Schottenheimer said, “he’s got a lot in his mind he wants to prove.”
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To improve on 2015, Luck needs to do a better job of protecting himself. However that has to be balanced with his abilities that keep a play alive and lead to new additions to the highlight reel. Those types of plays have won games for the Colts over the past four seasons.
The Colts will need to find a balance between the “Luck who keeps plays alive” and the “Luck who puts himself in dangerous situations.” The simple things Luck can do involve sliding on scrambles and getting the ball out of the pocket quicker to avoid more hits. But coaching out that competitive spirit that makes him think he can do more on every single play would be a mistake. Luck has to learn patience much like his predecessor, Peyton Manning (coincidentally at about this same time in his career).
Schottenheimer spoke about that delicate balance Luck is going to have to deal with from here on out.
"“Sometimes, when you lose something precious to you, you sit back and you say, ‘Wow, in order for this not to happen again, there are some things I might have to adjust and change,’” Schottenheimer said.“He wants to be out there on that field,” Schottenheimer said. “And we certainly need him out there on that field.”"
Luck seems to understand what he has to do to, and has talked at length about making quicker reads and better adjustments. The 2015 season hinged more on Luck’s developments than it did on all the additions the front office made to the team. We never truly saw a healthy Luck on the field last year and he certainly never looked comfortable.
Improving the team around Luck and taking some of the pressure off him is the surest way for him to take a perceived step forward. Better protection, a run game, and a reliable defense will go much further than a slide coach or a quicker release. Those improvements will go a lot further in terms of team success as well as making Luck feel like he doesn’t have to win the game on every play.
Schottenheimer doesn’t need to help Luck with very much. His mechanics are great, he can make throws that only a handful of people can, and he’s got a brilliant mind for football (and probably whatever else he’d like to do). The small tweaks are sometimes the hardest, but if Schottenheimer can help Luck take that next step the Colts will be in fantastic shape and this will be one of the best hires the team has made in years.