Six years after the Indianapolis Colts released Peyton Manning and used their No. 1 draft pick on Andrew Luck, they are still a team with a quarterback problem.
It certainly isn’t a talent problem where Luck is concerned. The 28-year-old signal caller has the ability to be one of the best quarterbacks in the game. We saw it in his ability to overcome a 38-10 deficit in the third quarter and beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs in 2014. He showed it when he went to Colorado and knocked off his predecessor Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to help the Colts advance to an AFC Championship Game.
It’s asinine to even attempt to question Luck’s ability. His availability, however, is a completely different story.
Luck is already showing similarities to NBA great Grant Hill in his young NFL career. Hill was one of the most talented guards in the NBA, but his career was marred by persistent injuries. That isn’t to say he didn’t have a sensational pro basketball career. He was a seven-time NBA All-Star and a member of the 1997 All-NBA First Team.
But injuries robbed him of an opportunity to cement his legacy as one of the league’s all-time greats. Instead, fans are left to ponder what could have been rather than what was.
Luck, who was placed on injured reserve on Thursday with a lingering shoulder injury, is headed down the same dubious path. He has played in only 22 of a possible 48 games over the last three seasons. His inability to stay on the field is as much to do about bad luck as the Colts taking his talent for granted.
A porous offensive line, along with a lackluster running game, has been the norm for a Colt team that has nearly broken its prized draft pick with overuse and defensive abuse. This is the same quarterback who was knocked out of the 2015 season with a lacerated kidney and a torn abdominal muscle. Those are injuries more in line with a car accident than playing football.
There was no reason for him to come back this season, not when the Colts are on the verge of missing the playoffs for a third straight season. Even if they were a legitimate playoff contender, Luck would be better off watching the game on the sidelines while he has some semblance of a career left.
His backup Jacoby Brissett is currently the most sacked quarterback in football. Luck didn’t need to subject his injured shoulder to any more punishment.
“We think for the long-term interest of Andrew this is the best course of action,” Colt general manager Chris Ballard said on Thursday, per ESPN’s Mike Wells. “I’ve heard all sorts of rumors about ‘career-ending.’ That’s not the case here. I’ve not got that from one doctor. Career-ending is putting him out on the field before he’s ready to play. That’s where you should be concerned.”
Career-ending is putting him on the field without a good offensive line and consistent running attack. The 34-year-old legs of Frank Gore were never going to be enough to save Luck, who should be well on his way to being one of the all-time great quarterbacks in the league.
He feels more destined to ponder what could have been rather than what was.