He did something, and that’s enough for me.
A year ago at this time, I was clinging to my last hope that the Colts would retain the services of Peyton Manning, trade the #1 overall pick, and load up the team with #18 at the helm. I thought about it daily… hourly… and cried on air like a little girl when it didn’t happen. You see, while I’ve been a Colts fan since the days of Jeff George and Jim Harbaugh, thankyouverymuch, I became a rabid fan because of Manning. I invested a lot of emotional capital in the goofy, “Aw, shucks” quarterback, grew to love the way he guided the offense, suffered when he was disappointed after a loss, was quick to point out how good HE was despite not having a full complement of top-notch, healthy players. I joined the crazy world of blogging and podcasting because of Peyton, purchased on-line sports content because of Peyton, memorized weekly NFL schedules because of Peyton, donned a blue #18 jersey to watch every single Colts game because of Peyton.
So when it was clear that Andrew Luck – another #12? from my cross-town rival STANFORD?!?! – would be the next signal caller for the Colts, I was certainly intrigued. But there was no way I was putting Peyton in an “Archive” folder on my computer. As it turns out, Peyton has been my laptop background and screen saver since early 2007. Every day for almost 6 years, I’ve opened my computer to see Peyton in a Colts uniform, eyes downfield, about to pat the ball in anticipation of a throw whose outcome has long been decided and which I don’t even remember. When the screen saver spins up, it cycles through a number of football pictures, a third of which are of Peyton, another 20% or so of Reggie Wayne, and the rest various pictures of Colts (and some Cal) players in the midst of making great plays in memorable games. (I admit that for the most part I choose not to keep pictures from games which the Colts lost, but every once in a while I can’t pass up a good one.)
With all this effort invested into something I stared at daily, I wasn’t about to change a thing… unless Luck did something. I admit that at first, that “something” was “win a Super Bowl….” perhaps a bit unrealistic in his rookie year with a rebuilt team. But I certainly wasn’t going to open up my laptop to proudly display Andrew Luck on stage with Roger Goodell at the draft, or see him in shorts and shells (and a red – RED! – jersey) at practice during OTAs. And I didn’t want to use a picture from their Week 3 win against Green Bay for fear that I might jinx his health or ability to enjoy more such comebacks. And while I didn’t expect more than 6 wins MAX out of this team, I also wasn’t likely to make that switch after they crossed that mark (good thing I didn’t because the following weekend was simply depressing).
But as the team rolled to a 5-of-their-last-6 record, capping the season with a very good (not crushing by any means) game to remain undefeated against the Texans at home, I began to feel it. Luck has accomplished something. In fact, he’s accomplished a lot. He has set rookie passing records. He led his team to 11 wins and a playoff berth (the first #1 overall to do so). But there are three things that Andrew Luck did that impressed me the most. First, he led the team to 7 – SEVEN! - fourth quarter comeback victories (plus another one that didn’t count due to blown coverage against Justin Blackmon). His will to win, his football IQ, his athleticism, his insert-another-cliché-here… took me right back to the days of Peyton Manning when the game was truly never over until the last second ticked off the clock. Imagine Week 13 (Detroit) with one of the 2011 quarterbacks at the helm!
Second, Luck remained healthy. I recognize that this wasn’t entirely his doing, but as they say, “it starts at home.” He kept himself in shape, he learned to scramble less and slide in the pocket more (though admittedly I think he could scramble a little more), and he mostly slid or dropped to avoid big tackles. With more tape to review next year, opponents will likely be able to predict his moves, but I trust that he will also watch the tape and learn a bit more about how to avoid getting hurt. (I also trust that Grigson will be upgrading the O-Line to help with this.)
Finally, Luck did it with a humble, goofy personality (sound familiar?). I’m not a fan of flash. I’m not a fan of the “me” culture. And perhaps… no, definitely… I’m a fan of the confident underdog. And in the world of the 2012 Rookie QB, Andrew Luck is very capable, but somehow the underdog in the media. He’s “boring” and “traditional.” Well, this week I watched “exciting” get diagnosed with a “severely sprained LCL and perhaps ACL damage” and “out for at least the offseason.” And I watched “mobile” operate behind the 3rd best run blocking OLine (per DVOA). Despite needing some rest for his left knee, Luck will be ready when offseason activities start, and he’ll probably expand the leadership role everyone already respects him for.
So yeah, he’s done something, and that means I need to do something to. I have already begun to add important photos from games this year; those are presented randomly every 10 seconds when I’m not actively using my computer. And come the full end of the 2012-2013 NFL season, I will switch my desktop background to a quintessential Andrew Luck game action photo. Given the momentousness of the occasion for me, I would greatly appreciate input from our fans and readers regarding which photo you would choose… I might just do it.
Now that Luck has done something, so must I.
Amazing post Laura! The more I think of it as well, the more he reminds me of ol' #18. We are truly blessed to move from one prodigy to the next
Been awhile since I had the pleasure of reading one your posts. This was a good read, thanks. After that throw Peyton made yesterday, it's time to take down that background. Peyton goes one deep again, I so hoped he'd be getting that second ring this year. Too late now, here come the Colts.
@tim55 I tell ya what, after last nights game, I was in shock. Absolutely the Defense let the team down, and yes the play calling was questionable. But it hit me really hard last night: Peyton just does not do well in the playoffs. Clearly there are always reasons beyond him. But correct me if I'm wrong, he's had this label since his days at Tennessee, no? I've seen the stats on this site and others that show it's not him. That he plays at an elite level in the playoffs, but you can't argue with the end results. And when I think of his one ring back in 2006 against the Bears, we all know that Rex Grossman played as well as Mark Sanchez that day. Had he not, we might not even have that ring.
I mean, I love the guy a lot! But his throw was idiotic. Second down, while scrambling, across his body, into coverage? That's a Brett Favre move, and it has tainted Favre's legacy. When QB's make dumb throws, people compare them to Favre. Peyton is supposed to be smarter and more mature than that.
And from an intelligence perspective, he should have knows that the game would go on to more OT's. And it was second down!
This loss hurt as much as when he was with the Colts. Sheesh.
I'm glad to see Andrew being a little smarter about throwing the ball away. I'm just so unhappy that Peyton's legacy is going to be that he's labeled as someone who fails in the playoffs (for many reasons that are not because of him, I know). He's much more than that, but he's gotta stop doing dumb stuff. Had he not thrown that interception, and instead maybe gotten them down the field, EVEN IF they had to kick the ball away and the Ravens would have won the game by marching down the field, he would not have been blamed. His one interception before that was a tipped ball, and let's not even start with the officiating. He would have dodged a bullet. But nope, one dumb play to seal it and it will ride him until next year. And much like when I used to watch the Colts, regular season for us didn't matter. We ALWAYS made the playoffs. So we'd wait patiently as we won one game after another, and then start stressing when the playoffs started, and then BOOM, we're done (except that one time). Yes, I remember the second SB, let's not go there, Hank Baskett.
Anyway, sorry for the rant. I'd love to see an article on this site analyzing at a high level the stats for the game.
@buymymonkey I know it gets tiresome, but just look at Peyton's last three playoff losses:
Super Bowl lost to the Saints. (No need to rehash that.)
2010 loss to the Jets When Peyton left the field for the last time he had just led the Colts on a drive that ended with a Vinatieri FG that put them up with less than a minute to go. (The only other time a lead has changed twice in a playoff game with less than a minute left is the Music City Miracle game.)
Finally, Saturday's game against the Ravens. When Peyton left the field in regulation for that game, he had helped put the Broncos in a situation that by percentages, they win 95% of the time. (Compare that result to the Pats/Ravens playoff game last year, when the Ravens' reciever dropped the winning TD with seconds remaining and then their kicker missed a FG that was barely more than an extra point in distance.)
And just for me, Peyton's first interception Saturday keeps being referred to by everybody as a "tipped" ball. While this is technically correct, it really does not capture the essence of the play at all. It was a perfect pass right in Deckers hands where he was blantantly interfered with.
(Sorry Laura, for me doing this on your great post.)
@DougEngland @buymymonkey to elaborate more on the first interception, not only was there interference on decker, but if you look at the play again, you will see a hold on stokely. there should have been two flags on the play. There is one big difference right there. The refs essentially spotted the Ravens 7 points
@buymymonkey If you haven't already seen it, I think Barnwell's article on this is worth reading: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8842329/bill-barnwell-weekend-divisional-games "Manning mouth breathers" - ha!
The only thing even remotely approaching that was the Super Bowl pick, and I place that on Reggie, not Peyton, so I don't think it legitimately compares. I swear, if people will just watch the play from the "behind the QB" point of view, you'll see his look-off fool everyone on the defense - and I mean EVERYONE - EXCEPT for Porter, who gambled. Seriously, watch that play; he gets New Orleans coverage linebackers and at least one of the DBs on the screen to scramble towards Clark. It was amazing... save for the fact it was also an amazing play by Porter. :(
Unfortunately, too many won't take the analysis that deep, and will way "another playoff pick". But they're having to go all the way back to 2010 for it.
So yeah, while I don't defend or excuse that interception, I also feel that he did enough in regulation to get it done. More than enough. But what can you say? It's always the QB who gets the lions share of blame, whether or not they deserve it.
@buymymonkey @tim55 Eh, yeah, that interception was stupid and on him. He played very well the rest of the game, but he ended it for them. That doesn't mean that the garbage people wrote about him with the Colts was true (crap performances 02 and 03 notwithstanding, of course). He's still no worse in the playoffs than Brady or Ben or anyone else of this era other than potentially Brees and Warner.
@buymymonkey @Fondue @tim55 Yeah, I'm in the same boat, tbh. I kinda want to defend Manning more, but honestly, he's not a Colt anymore, so I almost don't care (as much). I'd much rather think about how good Luck is going to be for the foreseeable future and get excited about how he has much less of chance to choke than Manning (probably). Obviously, a good chunk of the blame goes to Fox for being SO conservative and scared, trying not to lose the game, and also, obviously, to the horrendous secondary that allowed the game to go into OT in the first place.
I say go with this one. http://i.imgur.com/6fCnp.jpg