Can Andrew Luck Make a Successful Comeback?

By: Nick Galle

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will look to return for the 2018 NFL season after he missed the entire 2017 season due to shoulder surgery.

Luck, who was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, has not been able to stay healthy throughout the past four years. Luck had an amazing 2014, throwing for 4,761 yards with 40 touchdowns. In 2015, Luck only played seven games due to injury, which was the foundation of the injury that he suffered in 2017. Through those seven games, Luck was not his usual self, throwing for only 1,881 yards with 15 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

Luck persevered through injury though, and bounced back in 2016. The Colts’ QB had a rating of 96.4, the second highest quarterback rating of his career. He totaled 31 touchdowns, and threw just 13 interceptions through 15 games.

Luck seemed to be the Andrew Luck that football fans had seen at Stanford and that Colts fans had wanted ever so badly, that they even came up with the phrase “Suck for Luck”, so that Indianapolis could receive the first pick in the draft, and take the Stanford QB.

Then 2017 hit.

Luck missed the first eight games of the season due to the shoulder injury, and when he returned to practice, he felt pain once again in his shoulder, sending him to the injured reserve. After heading to the IR, Luck stated that he was “excited for the future.”

Indianapolis finished 4-12 on the season, their worst record since 2011, where they went 2-14. With the emergence of the Jacksonville Jaguars as a powerhouse last season, the added talent this off-season by the Tennessee Titans, and the potential for a healthy Deshaun Watson in Houston to breakout this season, Indy faces tough divisional opponents. With such talented rivals, Andrew Luck and the Colts enter the 2018 season as the favorites to finish last in the AFC South.

The AFC South features a variety of talent this season that will make it hard for Luck to lead the Colts to the top of the division. The Jaguars and Titans finished above .500 last season, while the Texans and Colts finished 4-12, as both teams battled injuries. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

Can Andrew Luck bounce back once again from injury and lead a struggling Colts team to victory? Yes he can.

As previously stated, the Colts went 2-14 in 2011. In 2012, the Colts went 11-5, just one year after their worst season in franchise history since 1991. The Colts posted their worst record in a 21-year span, but just one year later, they managed to finish second in the division and make an appearance in the Wild Card Game against the Ravens. How did they make such a rapid recovery? Andrew Luck. Luck was a candidate for Rookie of the Year, but ultimately the award went to Washington Redskins quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

Let’s fast forward to 2014. Just three years after the 2011 disaster, Luck posted his best statistical season as an NFL quarterback, leading the Colts past the Wild Card, past the Divisional round, and to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. Despite losing 45-7 to New England, Luck showed the NFL that he was making progress as a quarterback, and the Colts were making progress as a team. 2014 also marked the second season in a row where the Colts finished first in the AFC South.

Andrew Luck helped lead the Indianapolis Colts to the AFC Championship back in 2014. The Colts would lose 45-7, but Luck showed opposing teams that he could bring a team to a Conference Championship game and compete with the greatest quarterback of all-time. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

The most important thing to note about 2012, 2013, and 2014 for Indianapolis is that each year, Luck and the Colts improved upon the previous season. After losing the Wild Card Game in 2012, the Colts won against the Chiefs in the Wild Card Game in 2013. After losing in the Divisional Round in 2013, Indianapolis came back in 2014 to win in the Divisional Round against the Broncos. The Colts were consistently improving season after season, until 2015, where injury took down the star quarterback once again.

Luck missed nine games due to shoulder injury, as the Colts finished 8-8 without their first-overall draft pick. It was a bump in the road for the organization that halted the progress they had been making throughout the past three seasons. 2015 may have slowed down the Colts, but it did not stop Andrew Luck from coming back in 2016.

Luck’s 2016 return was nothing short of amazing. Luck had the second best season of his career, while posting the best completion percentage of his career. The Colts finished 8-8 for the second straight season, but Luck was not the one to blame. Indianapolis had one of the worst defenses in the league, making it difficult for Luck and the offense to bring the team to the postseason.

2016 is the last time the NFL saw Andrew Luck start for the Colts. After sitting out and taking time to heal in 2017, Luck is back and ready to battle adversity yet again.

Many are doubting Luck, and with good reason. The former Stanford quarterback has not been able to stay healthy throughout his NFL career, and who knows, the shoulder injury could still be lingering.

What fans have not taken into account is Luck’s ability to fight adversity. The Colts quarterback has proven time and again that he can perform at a high level despite injuries standing in his way.

The seasons that went well for Luck such as 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 have been forgotten due to the fact that Luck’s injuries have caused him to miss so much time. People are paying attention to the negatives of Luck’s career, rather than the positives. Yes, Andrew Luck has missed a significant amount of time. Push that aside, and Andrew Luck is still a first-overall draft pick who has proven that he can throw for 30 to 40 touchdowns in a season when healthy, and win a couple games in the playoffs when it matters most.

2018 has a chance to be Andrew Luck’s year. If Luck can overcome the shoulder injury once again, look for  Indianapolis to finish second in the division, and maybe even challenge Jacksonville for the top spot. The Colts will aim to be in the Wild Card race and although unlikely, they could even make a playoff run. The run will likely be short-lived, but considering last season’s finish, a postseason appearance would be huge for the organization.

Will Andrew Luck be successful this season? He has done it before, and he certainly won’t shy away from the opportunity to do it again.

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Cover photo via: Getty Images

Nick Galle
About Nick Galle 20 Articles
Nick is from Sterling, Massachusetts and currently attends Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a journalism major. He formerly was the owner of BeanTownBlog617, a blog that covered Boston sports. In addition to the blog, he was the co-host of the Boston Sports Weekly podcast. He also writes for four other sports sites. His favorite teams include the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. Follow Nick on Twitter @EdgeSNGalle.

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