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.