Andrew Luck sounds like a quarterback who learned a hard lesson from 2015.
Sometimes, it’s more important to survive for the next play.
The Indianapolis Colts lost their franchise passer for nine games, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011. As the Colts were packing up their lockers last week, Luck lamented not being on the field enough for his teammates.
“That’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year, that you have to be healthy on the field,” the three-time Pro Bowl selection said. “You get too many reps. Too much is invested in you as the quarterback to not be out there.
He suffered shoulder and rib injuries that sidelined him for two games. Then came upset of previously unbeaten Denver on Nov. 8, when Luck scrambled and took two punishing hits that lacerated a kidney and partially tore an abdominal muscle.
Luck wasn’t cleared for the rest of the season.
As players said their farewells, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen visited with reporters and mentioned the importance, if possible, of avoiding additional punishment that can change a team’s season. While the Colts’ offense line contributed to quarterbacks taking too many hits, it’s possible Luck’s season-ending moment could have been avoided with a slide.
Maybe, and then again, maybe not. But watching his team struggle without him, Luck was made painfully aware of an obvious reality.
“You have to be on the field to help your team. It’s a simple truth.”
Luck was having his worst season when he got hurt. It’s debated how much the injuries contributed to his erratic play. His 55.3 completion percentage was a significant drop off from the previous two seasons. He had 13 turnovers, including 12 interceptions, in seven games.
One of Luck’s many admired traits is his competitiveness. The 2012 No. 1 overall selection hates to give up on a play. That determination to keep a play alive could be a positive but also a detriment.
Despite all his physical ability, the first serious injuries of his career were proof Luck is mortal. The pounding does add up. No quarterback took more hits in the NFL in his first three seasons. And he was always tough enough to take the next snap.
Now he’s forced to see the game differently. The Colts are confident his kidney will heal in the offseason and Luck will be back healthy for 2016.
“There’s not much to do for a kidney healing,” he said. “It sort of heals on its own time. That sort of takes care of itself.”
Trainers gave input on his offseason workout regimen. Luck is confident he’ll be back.
Hopefully he’ll be the wiser for what he endured this past season.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.