Thursday, October 17, 2013
NFLN Says: Can Luck be Manning?
By Kevin Seifert
Andrew Luck has shown some of same skills as Peyton Manning. How do they compare?
The past, present and future quarterbacks of the Indianapolis Colts will meet Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium, and ESPN's NFL Nation spent part of this week asking players if Andrew Luck is the next Peyton Manning.
Most of us should agree: There will never be another quarterback with Manning's combination of instincts, football intelligence, pocket presence and quick release. Let's not bother with that discussion. But can Luck provide the same essential service to the franchise? Will he guide the Colts at a high level through parts of two decades, as Manning did from 1998-2010?
Luck is off to a good start, having won 15 of his first 22 NFL games. Nine of those victories have come via game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, a topic we will inspect later this week, and he currently is the league's fourth-ranked quarterback via Total QBR. If he continues on that path, history tells us the Colts would have accomplished a rare feat in modern NFL history.
Following Hall of Fame QBs
Hall of Famer
Billy Joe Tolliver
* Passing leader
+ Eligible 2016
The chart illustrates the immediate transition from each of the nine Hall of Fame quarterbacks whose careers began after 1980. (We took the liberty of adding Brett Favre, eligible in 2016, as a 10th entry. Manning would be No. 11.) Usually, these transitions have failed and teams have taken decades to find a true franchise replacement. (Think: Terry Bradshaw to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Dan Fouts to Philip Rivers in San Diego and -- yes -- John Elway to Manning in Denver.)
In some cases, they're still looking. (We're looking at you, Miami and Buffalo.)
The Green Bay Packers have proved to be the exception. If Aaron Rodgers plays out his seven-year contract, the Packers would have achieved 28 consecutive years of elite quarterback play from him and Favre. Can Luck be the Colts' version of Rodgers? Will he add a two-decade career on top of Manning's tenure?
Here's what ESPN's NFL Nation found:
NFLN Says: Is Andrew Luck the next Peyton Manning?
"It's tough to get into comparisons. Peyton is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time. But I think Andrew has done some really good things so far on a team that's asked a lot of him. So he's done a really good job for them."
"I think it's too much right now. Peyton is Peyton. You know, what he's done, he's set himself apart from a lot of people. Andrew Luck is in his second year and yeah he's done some great things, but you don't take a second-year guy and compare him to a guy that's done what Peyton's done."
"He does have a chance to have the same type of career as Manning. What I like about him is he is all football. It's all business. He is focused on the game. He has all the tools. He has that strong arm, but he is also very athletic and he runs hard and fast. He is very difficult to sack. He is well put together and he shrugs off tackles well. There's just a lot to like. It's early in his career, but what we we've seen. I really think he has a special career ahead of him."
"Well, Luck, he's just a good young quarterback. I wasn't too sold on him when I first watched him, but to play against him and to see the poise that he does possess, it's different than a lot of the other young, quote-unquote good quarterbacks. I see why Indy drafted him. Not saying that I think they should have gotten rid of Peyton, at all, because he's a different specimen, he's on a whole other level. But a good young talent. He's going to be a very good quarterback in this league for a very long time"
"That's saying a lot. He could be. He could be, yeah. But Peyton's a pretty special player. Probably the best in history. That's like saying there could be another quarterback like him who's the best in the history of football. It's a possibility, but that's again, saying a lot."
"After [our] game, I walked away saying this kid has the poise to be really good. ... I'm reluctant to compare anybody to Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck is obviously on his way to being special player but even reaching his potential, who's to say he'll be Manning, so I'm real reluctant to even go down that road."
"He's played maybe a year and a half of football, obviously he's extremely talented and he's gonna be a very good quarterback but we're talking about one of the best, if not the best quarterback of all time. He's had a great start to his career, there's no question about that. But there's a lot of football to be played until that talk is considered, I guess."
"He's certainly a talented quarterback that's got a ton of upside. He's got all the attributes, but time will tell. I mean you're comparing him to Peyton Manning already? Would you compare him to a young Peyton Manning? Absolutely. But Peyton Manning now? I don't know. Time will tell."
Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck will always be linked by virtue of the Colts. But can Luck rise to the level of consistency Manning has achieved? His start seems to say yes. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two through the first 22 games of their careers:
Jeff Legwold: The record doesn't tell the whole story here. After a 3-13 finish in 1998, the Colts started 4-2 in '99. The turnaround was already underway as they eventually won 11 in a row and hosted a playoff game against the Titans in '99.
Mike Wells: The Colts beat expectations in a rebuilding season. Coach Chuck Pagano missed 11 games battling cancer, but Luck didn't let the adversity keep him from leading the Colts to an 11-5 record and the playoffs.
Legwold: After failing to complete at least 60 percent of his passes in nine of first 11 starts, Manning topped 60 percent in seven of his next 11 starts. The only season he didn't complete at least 62 percent was his rookie season.
Wells: Accuracy has been Luck's biggest issue. He entered this season with a goal of completing a higher percentage of passes, and that's what he's done. He's improved his completion percentage from 54.1 as a rookie to 61.8 this season.
Legwold: Manning's first 22 games came before the league made downfield contact by defensive backs a "point of emphasis." But he had Marvin Harrison out wide and had four 300-yard games in his rookie season to go with a 404-yard game in Week 3 of '99.
Wells: Luck had rookie record 4,374 passing yards last season. He's gotten off to slow start passing this season -- 25th in the league in yards -- because the Colts have put an emphasis on running the ball to balance the offense. He'll have to go on a tear to surpass last season's total.
Legwold: The Colts had a 320-carry running back in the offense in each of Manning's first two seasons (Edgerrin James had 369 carries in '99). Yet, Manning had only one game where he did not throw a TD pass.
Wells: Just like with the passing yards Luck's touchdowns are down after he threw for 23 scores, which was second among rookies, last season. Only two of his seven touchdown passes have come in the second half this season.
Legwold: Manning showed the ability to avoid sacks right away. In his first four games with the Colts he was sacked 11 times, but had just 11 more for the rest of the season. He got sacked just three times over the first six games in '99. As Manning has put it: "I learned a punt was a good play sometimes."
Wells: The offensive line did a poor job of protecting its franchise quarterback last season. Luck was sacked 41 times, causing the Colts to upgrade the line in the offseason. Luck has only been sacked 13 times this year despite his starting tight end and left guard being out for the remainder of the season with injuries.
Legwold: Manning led the league as a rookie with 28 interceptions, a total folks seemed far more willing to live with 15 years ago. Manning has said he learned in those early games what worked and what didn't against various defensive looks, filed away the data and tried not to make the same mistakes.
Wells: Improved accuracy has helped Luck go from being tied for the third in the league for the most interceptions last season -- 18 -- to only throwing three in 186 pass attempts this season. One of his picks came in the fourth quarter when he tried to force a pass to Reggie Wayne in the end zone against Miami.
Legwold: Manning is mobile in the pocket and knows how to extend plays with subtle movements, but in the end he wants to make plays standing tall behind his blockers so that's where he has remained much of the time.
Wells: Luck isn't mentioned in the same breath as other mobile quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, but he has no problem tucking the ball and running with it despite Pagano preferring Luck go out of bounds or slide.
Legwold: The Colts didn't lead that much in Manning's rookie year, having lost nine games by at least a touchdown and five by at least nine points. But Manning now leads the NFL in game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime (49) since the Merger.
Wells: Luck is tied with Jake Plummer for the most fourth-quarter comebacks through two seasons. He'll likely surpass that total by the end of the season. What makes that total even more remarkable is seven of those comebacks were during his rookie season.
Legwold: Manning has talked about how much he learned from Faulk, though they played together only in Manning's rookie season. Even as recently as this training camp Manning said he had never played with a running back who knew the passing game like Faulk.
Wells: Luck is the first person to say that having veterans like Wayne, Mathis and Freeney around has helped his transition. Wayne's locker is two to the right of Luck's and Castonzo's is two to the left of his quarterback.