Indianapolis Colts: Drew Brees

INDIANAPOLIS – It wouldn't be surprising if the reaction to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's new $110 million deal, which includes a record $61 million guaranteed, went something like this from the important figures inside the Indianapolis Colts' organization:

Owner Jim Irsay started squirming after realizing he'll likely have to pay quarterback Andrew Luck even more than that.

General manager Ryan Grigson was probably like, "This is why I had to be frugal and not free-spend during the offseason."

Luck, in typical Luck fashion, probably didn't have much reaction because he doesn't operate like that.

You can spend plenty of time debating whether Kaepernick is worth the contract. You can't knock somebody for getting paid. But no matter how you look at Kaepernick's huge payday, just know that the Colts should prepare themselves because they'll have to pay Luck even more money than what the 49ers quarterback got once he's eligible for a contract extension next year.

Why?

Luck is a better quarterback.

I know, I know, Kaepernick plays in the toughest division in the NFL -- the NFC West -- and he's been to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game twice in as many seasons.

But just like the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, Kaepernick gets help from a very good defense and running game to assist with the passing game.

Luck?

The Colts' defense has been a weak link outside of Robert Mathis' 19.5 sacks last season.

A running game?

Now that's funny.

Luck has overcome those flaws to lead the Colts to 22 victories and the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. He's done it with some late-game heroics, too.

Kaepernick is 21-8 as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Luck is 22-10 and 1-2 in the playoffs.

Kaepernick has thrown for 5,046 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career. Luck has thrown for 8,196 yards, 46 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in his career.

Grigson knows at some point, he'll have to pay Luck and some of the other players in the 2012 draft class. He openly said so during the combine in February.

Here's a breakdown of guaranteed money given to active quarterbacks:

Kaepernick: $61 million
Matt Ryan: $59 million
Tom Brady: $57 million
Drew Brees: $55 million
Tony Romo: $55 million
Aaron Rodgers: $54 million
Jay Cutler: $54 million

Kaepernick set the bar with the contract Wednesday afternoon. Now you should expect Luck to surpass it.
ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando has an interesting piece on which current NFL quarterbacks are worth No. 1 overall picks. The Houston Texans have the No. 1 overall pick next and there seems to be a strong consensus that there's not a sure-fire quarterback worth taking No. 1 overall in this year's draft.

Sando has quarterbacks divided into four tiers: Clearly worth a No. 1 overall pick, Close but not quite, You could make an argument for them, and On their way, but not there yet.

To no one's surprise, former Colts and current Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is at the top of the list. Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, led the Colts to two Super Bowl appearances, been been named league MVP a record five times and his place in the Hall of Fame is assured once he retires.

The other not surprising pick -- outside of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees of course -- is Andrew Luck. Luck has lived up to the talk of being the best quarterback taken No. 1 overall since Manning. Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons despite offensive line problems, lack of a running game in his second season and not having his head coach most of his rookie season. He has yet to lose back-to-back games in his NFL career.

Remember Robert Griffin III, the player some thought the Colts should take over Luck in 2012? He's in the lowest tier. Griffin's knee injury has kept him from being in a higher category. He'll join Luck, Brady, Manning and others in the top category before it's all said and done.
The Indianapolis Colts, winners of the AFC South last season, will open the preseason at the location of the last Super Bowl.

The Colts will play at the New York Jets during the first week of the preseason. Then they’ll come home to play the other New York team, the Giants, in the second week of the preseason, followed by a nationally televised home game against the New Orleans Saints. The Colts wrap up the preseason at Cincinnati for the 12th straight year.

Facing the Saints in the third preseason game will be a good test for the Colts' defense. That’s the game where the starters often play into the second half. Linebacker Robert Mathis and the rest of the defense will be able to check their progress against a New Orleans offense that can move the ball with Drew Brees at quarterback.

The Colts also face the Giants and the Bengals during the regular season.

Week 1: at New York Jets

Week 2: vs. New York Giants

Aug. 23: vs. New Orleans

Aug. 28: at Cincinnati

NFLN survey/Super Bowl QB: Colts

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
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Two minutes remaining. Need a touchdown to win the Super Bowl.

Who do you want under center leading the game-winning touchdown drive?

Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger. What about Eli Manning?

It turns out 40 percent of the 320 players asked picked Brady as part of the NFL Nation survey. Manning, who will be quarterbacking the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl on Sunday, finished second behind Brady with almost 26.9 percent of the votes. Brady has led the New England Patriots to five Super Bowls, winning three of them. You're in good hands with Brady or Manning in the final two minutes of a game. Plenty of defenses from around the league can vouch for that.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has led the Colts to seven victories when they’ve trailed by double digits in his 35-game NFL career. Next up for him is to lead the Colts to the Super Bowl. The top six vote-getters – Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Roethlisberger and Eli Manning – have all played in Super Bowls.

Pro Bowl selections: Indianapolis Colts

December, 27, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Robert Mathis entered the season wanting to prove that he could be successful without playing alongside Dwight Freeney.

Mathis picked up his 100th career sack and led the league in that category most of the season. He set the Colts’ single-season and franchise record for sacks earlier this month. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

And now he’s a Pro Bowler.

Mathis was selected to his sixth straight Pro Bowl on Friday night. He has 53 tackles and is second in the league in sacks with 17.5. Mathis was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October.

The Pro Bowl draft will be held on Jan. 22.

The Colts are 10-5 and won the AFC South, but Mathis is the lone Colts player to be selected to the Pro Bowl.

An argument could be made that quarterback Andrew Luck and special-teams ace Sergio Brown should have made the team.

Justin Bethel of Arizona and Matthew Slater of New England were the two special-teams players taken over Brown.

Here’s the breakdown of the quarterbacks taken over Luck:


Luck's completion percentage doesn't help his cause. He could be named to the team as an alternate.

Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.
A weekly examination of the Colts’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 10 | Last week: 6 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

I figured the Indianapolis Colts would move up at least one spot in the rankings if they beat Seattle, but New England’s loss to Cincinnati helped them jump two spots from last week. The only thing stopping the Colts from being a top-three team are the three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL: Denver, New Orleans and Kansas City. Indianapolis plays two of those teams -- the Broncos and Chiefs -- this season. This coming week, Indianapolis goes on the road to play at San Diego, which is 20th in this week’s rankings, in its lone Monday night game of the season. The Colts will have another chance, albeit a small one, to move up next week because the Saints travel to New England to take on the Patriots this weekend. The Patriots, though, don’t have enough offensive weapons to keep up with Drew Brees and Co. The Chiefs host the Oakland Raiders. We’re not even going to talk about Denver’s opponent, because you’ve probably got a better chance of winning the lottery than the Broncos losing to the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

Luck No. 7 on MVP Watch list

September, 11, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- ESPN.com Giants reporter Dan Graziano came out with his MVP Watch list Wednesday. And to no surprise, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is on the list. He’s No. 7 to be exact.

Luck’s spot is about right.

Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, New Orleans’ Drew Brees, New England’s Tom Brady, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning is in the top spot after he threw for seven touchdowns against Baltimore in Week 1.

I was a little surprised San Francisco's Anquan Boldin wasn’t on Graziano’s top-10 list.

For those upset over Luck’s positioning, you have to take into consideration that Luck attempted a career-low 23 passes and threw for a career-low 178 yards. He did score the game-winning touchdown on a 19-yard run. You can’t point the finger at Luck over the low number of pass attempts because he was at least efficient (18-of-23). You also have to remember that the Colts are putting an emphasis on running the ball this season. They ran the ball 26 times against the Raiders.

Luck will be tested this weekend against a Miami defense that registered six sacks and three interceptions against Cleveland last weekend.

Here’s the link to Graziano’s MVP Watch. You can also rank the MVP candidates here.

Grantland: Luck takeover starts now

September, 7, 2013
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Grantland has an article talking about how it's usually a good idea to assume that teams that have Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and that player who goes by Peyton Manning will make the playoffs.

Luck
And some feel that the Colts and Andrew Luck will regress this season. Andrew Sharp, the writer of the story, believes Luck will continue to get better and eventually take the league by storm.

I agree with Sharp.

I’ve already said I believe the Colts won’t win 11 games this season, but Luck -- and the rest of the team -- will be better this season.

Sharp noted that Luck was the "sloppiest of any of the four young superstar quarterbacks" last season. That's not surprising considering Luck spent most of the season taking a pounding. He was sacked 41 times and hit more than 100 times. That still didn't stop him from setting rookie records for most passing yards, attempts and 300-yard games.

I’ve only been around Luck for five weeks and I can already tell he doesn’t carry himself like he thinks he’s already made it to the top. I’ve seen that kind of arrogance out of a lot of young players I’ve covered in this business over the past 13 years.

Luck’s the complete opposite.

He constantly talks about what he did wrong and needs to fix instead of praising himself. That's what you want out of somebody who has everything necessary to be one of the best at his position for at least the next decade.

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