By William Hill
Last Updated: 8th January 2020
Rewind to the start of the season where the Indianapolis Colts were trading at 1-3. If you had told Andrew Luck that he would be playing in this weekend’s divisional rounds against the Kansas City Chiefs he probably would have politely smiled and changed the topic.
Fast-forward fifteen weeks and his performance against the Houston Texans last week took his side one round closer to the Super Bowl title. So what happened week four onwards and what implications does this have for his side moving forward?
1) Strong defence
Given that Luck missed the entirety of last season due to a shoulder injury, he might be forgiven for his lackadaisical performances in the first four games of the season. Nevertheless, while finally returning to full fitness can be accounted for his attacking resurgence, surrounded by a solid defence has helped too.
His fellow Colts have only allowed the 29-year-old to be sacked on only 18 occasions across the regular season, giving the Washington native all the time in the world to go through his passing range.
Yet Luck’s quick-thinking has shown when given time and space in the pocket to assume that not all the hard work has been done by his defenders. Unlike a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger or Nick Foles (regulars on the receiving ends of sacks), he knows when to get rid of the ball and make the most of the space on hand.
2) The dangerous duo of Luck and Hilton
Just as pivotal as Luck to the Colts is their wide-receiver TY Hilton. Put them together and you get a dangerous combination of clinical throwing and pace and power on the offence. Exactly the kind of combination needed to defeat a team on a nine-game-winning run as the Colts did against the Houston Texans in the regular season.
A 60-yard throw in the dying moments of the game, secured by Hilton, earned Frank Reich’s side a vital 24-21 win over their opponents, but more importantly, exposed the powerful relationship developing between their quarterback and wide receiver.
Hilton clinched 63 yards for his three catches and got the first and last laugh against his opponents, but Luck’s accurate throwing technique was the definitive factor to his star-studded performance, leading us nicely onto our final point.
3) Game of Throws
Even the great Peyton Manning couldn’t criticise Luck’s ‘impossible to defend’ back-shoulder throw – a technique brought into use by the Colts quarterback in the opening weeks of the season as his side languished with a record of 1-3.
Yet while all eyes might have been on Patrick Mahomes – the most in-form quarterback of the season – running in second place, quietly biding his time was Andrew Luck.
The 29-year-old hasn’t been eager to use his rushing yards to amass that total but has been on-point with his throwing game, especially the back-shoulder throw which has brought into play the likes of Hilton and Dontrelle Inman.
This particular kind of throw encourages the wide-receivers to make darting runs down either side of the field and is an absolute banker for racking up the first-downs – something Luck is adept in producing.