Analysis: No Colts debate on Andrew Luck or Matt Hasselbeck

Hasselbeck has saved the Colts' season, but understands this is Luck's team when the starter returns healthy, as it should be.

If the season is on the line, one game to advance or go home, and the Indianapolis Colts have a choice to make at quarterback, guess who I’m taking?

Yeah, Andrew Luck.

Why write the obvious? Because the first question I received on two sports talk radio shows this week was this: If Matt Hasselbeck keeps winning, should the Colts stick with him?

When a question keeps getting asked, regardless of if you know the answer and expect most to know it, too, it shouldn’t be ignored. So I told both shows that the suggestion of a Colts quarterback controversy in Indy is an oxymoron. I’ve always liked that word. There are so many oxymorons in this world. And new ones are created all the time.

Like the suggestion that if the Colts win two or three more games and Hasselbeck is 7-0 as a sub for Luck, the team would be better served to stick with the 40-year-old savior. That’s not how it should be, nor how it works.

Hasselbeck knows this. The 17th-year pro was once backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay. Luck knows this, too. It’s his team. And he doesn’t have to say a word to back that up. How quickly some forget No. 12 basically carried the franchise the past three years. Argue all you want about how much he was the reason, but the Colts went from 2-14 to playoff team in one year. NFL turnarounds typically start because of a solid quarterback.

No way will I ever knock what Hasselbeck has done. It’s been inspiring. I actually read someone complain on Twitter about how he’s sick and tired of being reminded that Hasselbeck is 40 years old. Funny. Hey, that’s what makes it such a great story. He’s getting it done and has saved the Colts season, at least from the standpoint of still having a shot at winning the AFC South Division and making the playoffs.

The Mrs. showed me a picture of a fan who took an old No. 18 Peyton Manning jersey and taped over the 1s on the front and back and sleeves and taped over the Manning nameplate then wrote “Hassebeck.” Some are probably thinking, “That’s how Bob Lamey says it, right?” The fan was advised he was missing a letter, to which the creative jersey re-designer responded there wasn’t an “L” because Hasselbeck hasn’t lost yet in four starts this season.

Well played.

On Wednesday, both Hasselbeck and Luck were asked the question I received on the radio shows. Hasselbeck shook his head and reiterated he knows his role and this is Luck’s team. Luck praised the job Hasselbeck has done and basically reiterated his priority is to get 100 percent healthy from suffering a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle.

Please keep in mind, the Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and replaced him with associate head coach Rob Chudzinski as playcaller, then in a short week went out with Luck and knocked off Manning and the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos. That was impressive. That showed what this team is capable of accomplishing when it plays well, doesn’t commit turnovers and gets a couple of ‘em on the other side.

The Broncos are better than the Houston Texans (without an established quarterback at the time), Jacksonville Jaguars, free-falling Atlanta Falcons or rebuilding Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those are the four teams the Colts beat with Hasselbeck. And the Colts were still outgained in total yards in those games.

In other words, keep it in perspective. But today’s hunger for immediate sports opinion, however off base it might be, has media and fans trying to create a controversy that doesn’t exist. 

Luck is the franchise quarterback. He’s had a rough year, but he’s also suffered serious injuries that have sidelined him for two stints. And lest anyone forget, he looked pretty good when Chud was calling the plays against the Broncos.

When Luck is healthy, he will play. He’s confident he’ll be back.

I do hope he’s learned from watching how Hasselbeck has played. The backup gets rid of the ball quicker and he’s mindful of risky plays that could lead to turnovers. Luck needs to learn that same approach if he’s going to take the next step to be an elite quarterback. There must be a compromise to knowing when to take a chance, or hold the ball a bit longer to make a key play, versus being smart and avoiding a nasty shot or two and just throwing the ball away if it’s not there.

Hasselbeck will be remembered as the season savior. But Luck, if he returns, will play a prominent role in how long the season lasts, presuming it includes the postseason.

Nobody will convince me otherwise.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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