With the possibility of Andrew Luck missing games this season, it’s necessary to picture how a Luck-less season might look compared to the Indianapolis Colts 2011 season, when Peyton Manning was out the entire year with neck surgery. To add perspective, let’s examine how the Colts were in 2010 and 2016 to see what kind of supporting cast Indianapolis would enter the respective following seasons with.
How the Indianapolis Colts Will Fare Without Andrew Luck
In 2010, Indy still was a playoff team, after going 10-6 during the regular season, but it was a fall-off year for them. The year before that, Indy went 14-2 and ended up losing Super Bowl XLIV to the New Orleans Saints, and perhaps the Super Bowl lag got the best of them. Manning was still a passing sensation though, throwing 4,700 yards exactly and 33 touchdowns. The offense overall was also a top tier threat. The Colts were fourth in total offense, averaging about 381 yards per game, and they were the top passing offense with 288 passing yards a game. However, Manning’s supporting cast was lacking. The Colts were 20th in total defense and gave up the tenth most points per game at 24.2 per contest. Indy also continued its string of poor rushing support. The Colts only had 92 rushing yards per game.
Once the 2011 Colts campaign began, they greatly diminished in productivity. Of course, this was the year before the Colts drafted Luck in the 2012 NFL Draft, and they earned their way to the number one overall pick. The team’s record was 2-14, and they were lacking in every area. The Colts had the third-worst total offense. Their passing offense was 27th, but the rushing attack actually improved, moving up to 99.6 rushing yards per game. However, that total is still just good for 26th in the league. Let’s not forget that they also ranked 25th in total defense. Overall, the Colts suffered a drop-off in their supporting cast, but they suffered mightily without a top tier quarterback. Now let’s examine how the Colts are looking heading into the 2017 season.
Looking at the Colts, it’s better to examine the 2015 season because, although Luck did suffer an injury and miss a game in 2016, the former Stanford Cardinal was still on the field majority of the time. In 2015, Luck only played seven games and the Colts’ offense suffered after the Manning successor had a career year in 2014. During the 2015 season, Indy ranked 28th in total offense, averaging just 321 yards a game, and their defense was terrible. The Colts gave up the seventh most yards per game two years ago, allowing 379 yards each game. In 2014, however, the Colts were a different team. Indy was coming off of a second-round playoff exit, but Luck led Colts to an AFC Championship appearance. During the 2014 season, Luck was third in the league with 4,761 yards, and the Colts had the third best total offense with 406 yards per game.
The Colts main advantage going into the quarterback question mark this time around is the team has experience dealing without their star under center. The Colts 2015 team may have been better than the 2011 one, going 8-8 compared to 2-14, but again, they had their starting quarterback majority of the year. Additionally, Frank Gore gave the Colts their first 1,000 yard rusher since Joseph Addai in 2007. They do still have a defensive issue, however. The team ranked 30th in total defense in 2016. Indianapolis playing without their star quarterback is not ideal regardless of how much their defense and rushing attack improve, but the horseshoe is entering a better scenario than six years ago. However, only time will tell if they will have to go through these circumstances as Luck continues to recover from shoulder surgery.