Posted on August 28, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Fans of the Indianapolis Colts do not want to go through another season like last year or like they did in 2011. They want their highly paid, superstar quarterback to remain healthy enough to play so he can lead the team to victory. They remember all too well what it was like before he arrived and what it was like last year when he was injured.
Colts fans would love to see their team back in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl, but with the way the offensive line has played it will probably not happen.
Since the 2012 season, the offensive line for the Colts have allowed 451 hits on their quarterback (2012—116; 2013—109; 2014—108; 2015—118). Their sack totals have been respectable, but that can be attributed more to Andrew Luck’s ability to get rid of the ball than protection.
The Colts are aware of this, of course, and tried to address their offensive line deficiencies in the draft. Four of their eight draft picks—including their first round selection—were used on the offensive line. But the unit was still so bad Saturday night against the Philadelphia Eagles that the team pulled Andrew Luck out at the half rather than let him play into the third as planned:
“We didn’t do the job that we should have done protecting our quarterback,” Pagano said (via Indianapolis Star). “There’s way too much penetration.”
Of Luck’s 21 drop backs in the first half, he was pressured 55 percent of the time, sacked on three plays, and hit on six others. But poor protection wasn’t the only problem:
“It’s hard to get anything going (when) you are in second-and-long or you have a holding penalty and you are first-and-20, second-and-20, whatever it is,” Pagano said (NFL.com). “When you don’t have a clean pocket then you don’t have time to stand in there and push the ball down the field like we wanted to sometimes. There were some decent plays made here and there but we’ve got to be better obviously.”
The future looked a little bleaker for Luck when his right guard, Jack Mewhort, had to leave the game with what was feared to be a torn ACL (which would mean he is done for the season). As it turns out, the damage wasn’t as severe as initially thought. He is expected to miss from two to four weeks.
Indianapolis likes to build through the draft, but if they want their quarterback to live long enough to negotiate another extension, they may want to consider seeking help on the offensive line via free agency. Most teams do.
Over the last six years (2011-16), teams have signed over $2 billion in contracts with free agent offensive lineman. This year alone, teams signed free agent offensive linemen to over $500 million in contracts. Of those, 13 signed contracts worth $10+ million and 35 signed for at least $1 million.
Indianapolis signed one—right tackle Mitchell Van Dyk—to a two-year, $990,000 contract. He is currently listed as the third-string right tackle.
If the Colts want to get the best Andrew Luck has to offer while they pay him $140 million over the next six years, they may want to consider jumping head first into free agency next offseason and sign a few good men for the line.