Hey! My first Andrew Luck headline pun! But truly, the change in the fortunes of the Indianapolis Colts has widely been attributed to rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, which is fine, because he has been very good so far. I think, however, that this ignores the overall success of the Colts as a team, and doesn’t reflect exactly how bad the quarterback situation was last season.
The Colts have changed their defensive structure and play a 3-4 rather than their 4-3 that had treated them so well for so long. The pass defense has suffered slightly, but their run defense, one of the greatest problems in 2011 is the 22nd rated in the league compared to 29th last year. Part of this has to do with the fact that the team is more competitive, and teams are attempting to pass more to keep up. Overall, however, the defense has improved. They have allowed 16 fewer yards a game, despite more aggressive passing attacks, and moved up 4 spots in the defensive rankings. They could still stand to force a few more turnovers, of course.
Luck was fortunate enough to move into an offense that had Reggie Wayne already in house, and brought along Coby Fleener from Stanford and added TY Hilton in the later rounds of the draft, which obviously helped establish a quality foundation for a good passing attack. He also has a first round pick at left tackle in Anthony Castonzo. While 2 of those pieces were aded this year, Wayne and Casonzo were around last season. There really isn’t a good reason for 2011’s quarterbacks to throw for only 14 touchdowns, which was better than only three teams, and only one team (the Rams) when you consider how many times they attempted to pass.
The team is improved on defense, and was always set up to be a strong passing offense. It goes back to the old refrain. The Colts weren’t really a bad team last season, they just had to endure some of the worst quarterbacking ever. It didn’t take much out of that position to make the Colts much better. Of course, Luck does make the team a LOT better.