Is Andrew Luck Elite?

Would you say that Andrew Luck is an elite NFL quarterback?

Can you say that Andrew Luck is a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities?

Well, technically he is a part of that group because he’s a starting NFL quarterback. However, in a proper context compared to the rest of his peers, is he? No. How is he elite? Sure, you can argue he’s a top five quarterback in the NFL right now, or that you wouldn’t want another quarterback on your roster for the next 10 seasons. But today, in this moment now, he’s not an elite quarterback.

Throughout all of Andrew Luck’s career there have been several talking heads, coaches, players, fans, writers, Facebook trolls, German civilians, and even all-time greats that suggested Luck is an elite quarterback, or is “next”.

To put somebody on that pedestal is an incredible honor and shouldn’t be thrown around wildly. You can see the potential pouring out of Luck, but is he there already? He’s shattered records that were held for X amount of years played in the league. Is it because he’s that good, or has the game changed?

It’s simple, really, you can’t say (well, I can’t) Andrew Luck is at that elite level for three different reasons.

I.) Other Quarterbacks are Head and Shoulders Above Luck

Luck has been impressive since he stepped into the league as a rookie, but he’s never elevated himself into that top-tier of quarterbacks, otherwise known as “The Elites”. He can get there someday, but as of right now he’s a clear notch below.

*The quarterbacks who others would argue are also elite (right now) — Manning, Brees, Luck, Roethlisberger, etc. — are very, very good at what they do, but are definitely below Rodgers and Brady. I can’t say a quarterback is elite if he isn’t superior to the rest of their position in terms of ability or qualities.*

There are only a couple quarterbacks who belong in that special group — Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers — because they’re head and shoulders above not only Luck, but the remaining quarterbacks in the NFL. There isn’t two other quarterbacks you’d rather have on your team right now. There just isn’t. There isn’t a quarterback that is on their level.

Of these two quarterbacks, one might actually believe that his reputation, legacy, and family is being held ransom unless he wins. Brady has responded to the criticism and noise that developed from this offseason by TORCHING opposing defenses. Brady takes the field with the passion and focus of something greater than the entire pack of the Cobra Kai. He’s playing angry, he’s in control of this season, and every defense that comes to face off against Brady and his troops will be stepping into his dojo. In my opinion, the only way that New England doesn’t repeat this year is because of some crazy crucial mistake that they make during a postseason run, or Brady and his softened defense gets outplayed in the Super Bowl by the other elite quarterback in this league.

The other partner in the elite tandem is a mythical surgeon turned quarterback who is slicing defenses with his uncanny arm talent and ownership at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers is comparable to a Pablo Picasso or somebody of that platform because he can make anything happen in front of your eyes — deep balls, touch throws, security, scrambling, small window throws, smaller window throws, even smaller than smaller window throws, audibles, etc. Rodgers is one of the greatest maestro ever while he’s in the pocket; all he does is make sweet music.

Brady and Rodgers might look like two different styles, but they’re the same beast. What makes them tick is a combination of their ungodly high level of football intelligence, a gift wrapped skill set from the heavens, and a burning competitiveness gene that exits their body in different sized quantities depending on the magnitude of the moment. It’s why they’re special. It’s why they’re two of the all-time best.

II.) Turnovers

Andrew Luck has started his 2015 campaign badly — and that’s being generous — but this shouldn’t be surprising. Throughout his career, Andrew Luck has really struggled with turnovers.

In 2 games this season, Luck is 47 for 86 passes (54.7%) for 493 passing yards and a Passer Rating of 58.9. With 3 more interceptions last night, he now has just 3 touchdowns against his 5 interceptions and 1 lost fumble on the season.

Andrew Luck is still in that handful of quarterbacks that you can be a contending team with, but his turnovers are only eliminating his chances one game at a time. The turnovers aren’t because he’s a young quarterback anymore. Of course they aren’t all his fault, but at the end of the game it’s Luck who has the interceptions in his box score. Great quarterbacks take care of the football and

2012: 18 Interceptions (2nd) 6 Lost Fumbles (4th)

2013: 9 Interceptions (22nd) 2 Lost Fumbles (31st) — Give credit where credit is due, great season by Luck.

2014: 16 Interceptions (3rd) 6 Lost Fumbles (2nd)

2015: 5 Interceptions (1st)  1 Lost Fumble (2nd) — Through 2 Games*

A lack of protection from his offensive line is certainly a reason for Luck’s miscues, but even during the Monday Night game against New York you could see that Luck was forcing the ball down the field. He was taking unnecessary shots all night — something you don’t do against Revis and Cromartie.

Luck’s main focus this offseason was to cut down his turnovers. Considering he’s on pace to throw 40 (!!!) interceptions — won’t happen of course — I’d say he hasn’t quite figured it out. Sometimes the gamer inside of him tries too hard to make a play when it’d be more beneficial for his team to take a sack or throw a ball away.

Andrew Luck is definitely elite at realizing and admitting his mistakes during his press conferences.“Turning the ball over, fumbles, and interceptions. That’s a pretty glaring issue.”

Having Frank Gore in the backfield should help over the course of the season because he’s the first steady running back that Luck has had to lean on to reduce some pressure.

III.) The Winning has been Deceptive

The AFC South is the worst conference in football. You can argue that the NFC South is worse, but to me it isn’t close. The 2015 NFL draft featured the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars selecting with picks number two and three overall. The year before the Houston Texans owned the first overall pick and the Jacksonville Jaguars had the third overall selection. The point I’m making is that Andrew Luck and his Colts handle their business AFC South business effortlessly.

Andrew Luck Career Record Vs. AFC South: 16-2

Andrew Luck Career Record Vs. Anybody else: 17-15

Andrew Luck Career Playoff Record (0 Games Vs. AFC South): 3-3

Yes, I know. It’s pretty amazing.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t realize it was that bad for the Indianapolis Colts. That’s Andy Dalton-esque. Okay, I’m kidding (Seriously Troy Brown??), but that’s horrifying to look at if you’re Chuck Pagano, Andrew, Oliver Luck, Frank Gore, or anybody in that organization. That might be harder to look at for Indianapolis fans than their TV’s were after Devin Hester housed the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI. Maybe harder than watching for Bob Sanders weekly injury after he emerged as a stud defensive back, or Peyton Manning’s goodbye press conference.

So yeah, three straight 11-5 records might be what gets you excited for each season, but how great can you feel knowing you posted that record with essentially six extra BYE weeks? We’re talking the worse conference in the entire National Football League. Okay, Houston has gotten a little better, but that’s six free wins per season if you really think the Colts are contenders. Again, if sweeping Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Houston each season makes Chuck Pagano and his squad confident, maybe that’s why they hung a “2014 AFC Finalist” banner from their roof after they get throttled 45-7 in that very game.

Andrew Luck may get there one day, and probably will, but he continues to prove that he just isn’t ready to be in that conversation yet. Top 10 quarterback? Absolutely. Top 5? Sure, I’ll give you that depending on the week. This wasn’t intended to rip Luck, but just a reminder that some of us need to pump the breaks when it comes to a quarterback who’s been glorified since the day he decided to enter the draft.

 

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