Andrew Luck Retires

Ansh Suchdeve

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On August 24th, 2019, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement after six seasons with the team. A native of Washington D.C., Luck endured several grueling injuries, including a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder (which was likely the main cause of his withdrawal from football). Initially, Luck was selected with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts, becoming the 33rd quarterback to be chosen first overall in league history. The Colts were hoping that Luck would be the heir apparent to the future hall-of-fame quarterback Peyton Manning (after he left in free agency to end his career with the Denver Broncos), but it only turned it out to be for six seasons before his recent retirement. Moreover, the 29-year-old played 86 games for Indianapolis, leading them to the playoffs in four separate seasons and one AFC Championship game appearance.

(Photo by: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Luck was criticized by many Colts fans when his retirement announcement was leaked, as shown when he was booed off the field after a preseason contest against the Chicago Bears. Luck explained his decision in a press conference last Saturday, adding that “for the last four years or so I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain and rehab. And it’s been unceasing and unrelenting both in-season and off-season. I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.” Clearly, Luck was mentally and physically worn down, and it seemed as if he didn’t want to play football professionally any longer. The Colts longtime quarterback was also aware of the fans who turned his back on him, and acknowledged how much it hurt to hear the fans heckle him as he walked off the field. Many former and current NFL players chimed in on the shocking announcement, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. Rodgers claimed that the fans booing was “disgusting,” and he thought that Luck would “receive a standing ovation or thank you for his work,” according to ESPN. Additionally, Sherman of the 49ers  criticized Colts fans in an interview with NBC Sports Bay area. Some fans even went as far as demanding refunds for their season tickets, despite having a distant, but not an improbable chance of obtaining a wild-card spot this season.

From a statistical standpoint, Luck was excellent, as he threw for 171 touchdowns compared to 83 interceptions across 86 games. In terms of production, Luck recorded the third best EPA (average expected points) in 2018, with 103. EPA accounts for a player’s value to the team which begins with where the ball was placed at the beginning of each play in any type of game situation. It also measures how a player performs depending on a certain situation, and the statistic was created by ESPN. Interestingly, Luck recorded 20-game winning drives in just six seasons as a starter, including the infamous 28-point comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2014 AFC wild card game. Additionally, the Stanford graduate had four seasons where he would average seven or more yards per attempt, essentially meaning that every play Andrew Luck would move the ball downfield by at least seven yards through the air(on average, as aforementioned).

Now, Colts fans will hope that now-starter Jacoby Brissett will carry the offensive workload for Indianapolis. Brissett recently reached a two-year, $30 million dollar extension with the Colts, guaranteeing him $20 million of that salary over the course of his contract length. Brissett has played three seasons professionally, once with New England where he started two games and completed 61.8% of his passes, and served as a backup under Andrew Luck for two seasons (2017 and 2018), where he would appear in 20 games and throw 13 touchdown passes and 3,098 passing yards. Furthermore, Colts general manager Chris Ballard stated that Jacoby Brisssett “has an ability to calm people and he has an ability to rally people around him.” Ballard would also go on to say that “Let things play out. The one thing I don’t want to is work in hypotheticals to where we’re writing the end of the story before the story has even started. I do think a lot of Jacoby Brissett and what he means for us,” Ballard said in an interview with NFL writer Terez Paylor.

(Photo by: John Raoux/Associated Press)

Barring any changes, Brissett will take over an offense that was ranked seventh in terms of total yards per game(according to NFL.com), which sets him up for success from a numbers perspective. Luck may have left, but the Colts have everything in place for Brissett to succeed with the likes of T.Y. Hilton at wide receiver and Eric Ebron at tight end. However, it will likely be a tall task for Brissett to overcome the Jacksonville Jaguars defense and to keep up with the Houston Texans’ revamped offense, thus leading to having a smaller chance of even contending for the AFC South division title. In conclusion, Luck’s sudden retirement changed the blueprint for the franchise in Indianapolis for the foreseeable future, and it most certainly decreased their chances to contend for the Super Bowl this season.