NFL

NFL: Colts Proving to be More Than Andrew Luck

The Indianapolis Colts had the rug pulled from under them last month after star quarterback Andrew Luck made the surprising decision to retire after seven seasons. Despite that massive loss, the Colts haven’t skipped a beat, getting off to an impressive 2-1 start to the 2019 season demonstrating one key takeaway: They are the real deal even without Luck.

The Shock of Andrew Luck’s retirement

Former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck
The shock of Andrew Luck’s retirement has quickly worn off the Colts. | Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Throughout much of the offseason, the Colts dealt with their Pro Bowl quarterback struggling to make his way back from a nagging calf injury. Things became a bit murkier in training camp as he was further diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain that put his status for the 2019 season opener up in the air.

The entire situation took a dramatic shift during the Colts’ third preseason game against the Chicago Bears as it was leaked out that he had informed the team that he was going to retire. It was a public gut punch for the franchise that was now without the face of the franchise moving forward.

All the telling signs had been there with Luck behind the surprising number of injuries over the last few years despite him his stellar 2018 campaign. Things had just hit a breaking point for Luck, where the intense passion for the game was not there anymore.

The Colts were dealt a tough hand with the 29-year-old’s sudden departure, but the team has responded in a major way so far this season.

Colts off to a strong start in the 2019 season

Indianapolis hasn’t sulked in Luck’s retirement by any means, as evident by the impressive start to the year, holding a 2-1 record through the first three weeks.

There is a fair argument that the Colts could have been undefeated heading into Week 4 action against the Oakland Raiders had they inched past the Los Angeles Chargers in the season opener. Nonetheless, the team has shown some tremendous balance on both sides of the ball that could give them a legit shot at contending for the AFC South division title.

Jacoby Brissett has quickly quieted concerns about whether he can step up in place of Luck as he has recorded 646 passing yards with seven touchdowns to one interception. He’s coming off his best outing of the season in the 27-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons, completing 28-of-37 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns while holding a 118.1 passer rating. That included completing his first 15 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Marlon Mack has provided a strong presence out of the backfield as he compiled 299 rushing yards with two touchdowns along with 18 catches for 108 receiving yards. The Colts also possess one of the league’s top offensive lines, which has contributed to their offensive stability and solid start through the first few weeks.

Colts’ expectations for the 2019 season

Colts players
The Colts could be in store for a promising season sans Andrew Luck. | Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

All of this has raised the bar of expectations for the Colts moving forward this season as there is much reason optimism around contending for the playoffs.

Brissett is proving to be worth every penny of his two-year, $30 million deal behind his leadership and play within the offense. Their defense may have some lingering questions, but it’s a unit that has improved over the last year.

Although the schedule does toughen up a bit after facing the Raiders with back-to-back games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, things look to be more favorable. This includes matchups against several teams that could be on the outside looking in for the playoffs such as the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, andĀ Jacksonville Jaguars twice.

Luck may no longer be in the picture, but the future in Indianapolis is still bright.