As the Colts began their offseason program on Monday, franchise quarterback Andrew Luck revealed that he had been playing through shoulder pain for the better part of two seasons before ultimately opting on surgery in January. The revelation comes at a peculiar time, just one offseason removed from Luck’s signing to a six-year, $140 million dollar contract (including $47 million guaranteed) last June. Many fans were questioning team owner Jim Irsay’s decision to give Luck an extended contract after a 2015 season in which he played in just seven games and threw 12 interceptions while posting a career-low 54.1 QBR. While Luck responded by playing 15 games and throwing 31 touchdowns (with just 13 interceptions) with a career-best 71.2 QBR, his announcement should not make fans feel any more comfortable.
Luck stated that he first injured his right shoulder in a game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 of 2015, but agreed with management that rehab was the best option moving forward rather than immediately undergoing a surgical procedure. After two full seasons of exposure to a porous offensive line that ranked 27th in the NFL in sacks allowed in 2016 (44), Luck’s health should be a priority. His tendency to use his mobility to move around in the pocket and scramble make him that much more susceptible to getting hit, which is why it is curious that Irsay would allow Luck to play through injury.
At this point, Luck is the only reason that the Colts have managed to remain mediocre in these past two seasons. With an inexperienced and oft-injured offensive line and the absence of a steady run game over the years, the Colts have relied on Luck to manufacture points. Even the receiving corps has been fluid, as guys like Andre Johnson and Darrius Heyward-Bey were brought in only to see limited action and quickly be shuffled out. The only mainstay has been T.Y. Hilton. In essence, Luck has been that sure thing that has kept the Colts relevant in what is probably the NFL’s weakest division.
It is unfathomable that Irsay could have been so ignorant. To think that the Colts could have been legitimate Super Bowl contenders the last few seasons would be absurd, and yet that’s what Irsay must have truly believed in choosing to flirt with disaster. The Colts were never going to beat the New England Patriots, not with their defensive woes and inability to stop the ground game. So why risk it?
Colts fans should not take this lightly. Irsay has drawn criticism in recent years for his unwillingness to spend money in free agency as well as some rather harsh and somewhat unprovoked comments that have been directed towards former general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano in the past. Can Colts fans really place their trust in an owner with a tendency to be reckless as well as a quarterback that has proved to be just as reckless with his health? Luck is a generational talent, but he will be completely wasted if he continues to take a “wait and see” approach with every single injury.
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