Tag Archives: Andrew Luck

The “Franchise” Quarterback

I grew up in a time when it was beat into your head that “defenses win championships.”  And it seemed to be true.  The ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even the New York Giants that ruined a perfect season – they all had amazing defenses.  Even Bill Belichick’s Patriots were more defensive minded and oriented before Belichick realized the rules of the game would favor the offenses.

And that brings us to today.

Sure it’s great to have a good defense, but what does that get you in today’s NFL?  Last season the Cardinals and Jaguars ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in defensive yards allowed.  A stat that is really over-rated is “sacks” as half the teams in the top ten of that category didn’t even make the playoffs.  And although last year’s Patriots defense allowed the least amount of points per game, it was more because of WHO they played then HOW they (the Patriots played).  The Patriots DID have the number three offense in the NFL last year though – and they ended up playing against the number one offense in the NFL, the Falcons, in the Super Bowl.  Last year’s game featured a game with two clean cut quarterbacks with “video game” like statistics.  And the fans loved that.

Now a days, it’s not about the defense winning championships.  Its about the “quarterback.”  Not even the offense – just the quarterback.  Nobody wants to see a “defensive battle” on television anymore.  In a sport who’s fan-base has basically tripled because of fantasy football and daily fantasy football games – defenses are the devil.  The NFL knows that – which is why with today’s rules being adjusted, you can’t touch a quarterback, you must keep your hands off of a receiver and don’t you even THINK about hitting somebody too hard!  Because of these rule changes and a desire/need to see big numbers put up by offenses, the quarterback has become the focus of the league.

Before I go into why the quarterback is the “focus” of the NFL, let me just say. . . I’m still true to the belief of “owning the line of scrimmage.”  An offensive line is truly the key to any successful offense.  An offensive line adds balance to an attack, and security for the quarterback position.   With that said,   NGSC’s own Kyle Nash, has made sure to painfully and constantly remind me that Aaron Rodgers is probably the only QB to win a Super Bowl with a below average offensive line, which only ADDS to the fact that having a QB in today’s NFL is crucial.

Some quarterbacks can make average receivers look better than they are, for example: Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Dan Marino (sorry Clayton and Duper fans. . .) – these are the guys who can master their system and build guys up within it.  Then there are guys who need some talent around them so they can really flourish, for example Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Kurt Warner – their is nothing wrong with being in that latter category – it’s just facts.

The quarterback has not only become the leader of a team on offense, who must have the skill set to take advantage of the rules set forth today in the NFL – they must also be “the face of the franchise.”  It used to be running backs for the most part, but the quarterback determines how a team will be perceived and welcomed by the media – not just with his stats, but with his demeanor and personality.

Quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and even at times Cam Newton – make themselves easy targets for the media to pick apart what they do.  Anything from body language, social media posts or post game comments – can leave a negative affect on the media and in turn become what is talked about to each quarterback’s respective teams.

Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning helped to usher in this new era of quarterbacks.  All time greats, who smile when they have to smile, say all the right things and stay out of trouble (stop it with deflate-gate already. . .).

This poses a problem in today’s microwave-society though.   Fans want their favorite team’s franchise QB to become Manning or Brady overnight.  Fans have no patience for a quarterback to mature or grow within a system.  This usually ends up in coaches being fired, and the quarterback left in a position where he is doomed to fail.  Remember Jason Campbell?  Early Alex Smith?  And soon to be, Blake Bortles?  The media ends up destroying the mold of a team’s franchise quarterback because the “results” are not immediate.

Even Andrew Luck is feeling that pressure right now.  Unfortunately for Andrew Luck, he is playing with one of the worse rosters in the NFL, and in a division that has become increasingly more competitive (eh, the Jaguars still have Blake Bortles at quarterback though so. . .).

The Chicago Bears moved up in the draft to take Mitchell Trubisky number two overall.  That kind of move means the franchise has all the faith in the world for him to become their “guy” in the near future.  But wait, didn’t the Bears just sign Mike Glennon to be their starter at a ridiculous price?  And when they did, weren’t they making all kinds of ridiculous praises about him?  Yes. Yes, they did. Teams like the Bears are desperate at the quarterback position and need the media and fans to believe they have someone under center who can lead.  The Jets need it.  The 49ers.  The Texans.

In short, the quarterback position is more than just the most important piece of the puzzle in building a roster.  The quarterback is also the chip that puts a franchise in a better light.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Outsmart the Wise

Last week, the hot-shots at Vegas had some tricky lines but over here at Beating Vegas, we netted another winning week.  The NFL has left many scratching their heads as last year’s powerhouses like the Cardinals and the Panthers are struggling left and right, while teams like the Rams and the Vikings are proving to be the cream of the crop.  The hard-work will be accomplished here as we continue to give you winners against the spread though so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Washington Redskins +3.5 at Baltimore Ravens

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The Baltimore Ravens finally played an above average team and lost their first game this season and the Washington Redskins became a .500 team with a “little” help from the referees.  In the NFL it doesn’t matter how you get your wins, but for our purposes, how you win is just as/and sometimes more important than the actual win. The Ravens have been fluttering around the league looking a notch below mediocre and coming out with victories.  Credit that to coach Harbaugh (no, the other Harbaugh. . .the one who’s actually won something in his career. . .) but as stated last week, the Ravens best weapon on offense is their kicker Justin Tucker.  Sure they should something last week with running back Terrence West, but that was more of a fault to the Raiders who couldn’t stop anything that was attacking the left side of their defense.  Joe Flacco has been inconsistent this season and the Ravens best option at wideout is the seventy-five year old veteran Steve Smith, who this week will be matched up against the Redskins’ Josh Norman (popcorn, anyone?).  The Redskins go as far as Kirk Cousins’ own mediocrity will take them.  Offensively they seemed to put it together last week – albeit it was against the Browns, but this might be the kind of game that gets Cousins back on track.  The Redskins have speed and talent at the skill positions and should easily spread the Ravens thin.  The Ravens win or lose games by single digits and the Skins always have the “talent” on both sides of the ball – it’s their execution that comes into question.  Take the talent.

The Pick: Redskins +3.5

Chicago Bears +5 at Indianapolis Colts

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This is quite possibly the most disgusting game of the week. . . eh, maybe even the year.  The Bears have been showing no signs of turning fortunes around this season and getting their first win against a Detroit team that’s been a perennial loser for two decades is nothing to celebrate.  The Colts just lost to a Jaguars team that is one of the hardest to figure out – and it seems now that Andrew Luck’s frustrations are coming to a boil.  The Colts have the worst roster in the NFL today but Andrew Luck and Frank Gore are doing all they can to keep it together – by themselves.  The Bears are so bad as a franchise they’re actually considering leaving Brian Hoyer in at quarterback even if Jay Cutler is cleared to play.  I guess the Bears haven’t seen the story of Brian Hoyer being a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. . . most of us have seen it twice, two thumbs – wayyyy down.  So why would we bother watching this trash on a Sunday?  Easy.  Gore can run through the Bears front line and Luck can air it out against one of the most trash-bag secondaries in the league.  The Colts will struggle against Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, and the Chuck Pagano coached defense of the Colts stinks.

The Pick: The Over 47.5

Syracuse +3 at Wake Forest

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Each of these teams will struggle trying to get to six wins this season and that’s mostly because there is a gauntlet of talented teams in the ACC.  Unfortunately for Wake Forest and Syracuse they are not included in that gauntlet.  Defensively Wake Forest crushes Syracuse – if you look at the numbers, that is.  Wake allows 20 ppg compared to Syracuse’s 37 – but Syracuse has played the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Notre Dame; Wake has played Delaware, Tulane and Indiana. . . Wake’s rush defense is impressive only allowing 3.3 yards a run.  That’s nice and all, and would mean something – but Syracuse doesn’t run the ball.  Syracuse has a spread offense that averages 370 passing yards a game and completes 31 passes a game – this is tops in the ACC, a conference that has Clemson, Louisville and UNC.  This is bad news for Wake Forest who’s pass defense has allowed the fourth most passing yards in the conference and allows opponents to complete passes at about a 57% rate.  One of college football’s best kept secrets is quarterback Eric Dungey of Syracuse – he’ll have his way against Wake.

The Pick: Syracuse +3

Michigan -27.5 at Rutgers

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Michigan has hit the “finally” mark this season.  Last week they “finally” played a worthy opponent and this week they “finally” play an away game.  Lucky for Michigan their first away game is against one of the worst teams in division one football, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Rutgers ranks 268th in passing offense and 225th in total yards per game. Defensively they are dead last in the Big Ten Conference allowing 32 points a game.  Pretty impressive to be dead last in that category considering it means you have to play worse defense than Illinois, Purdue and Penn State.  Michigan has already won by more than 30 points on three separate occasions this season against teams that are bottom feeders like Rutgers.  Add to the fact that Michigan’s rival Ohio State just lit up Rutgers 58-0 last week – coach Jim Harbaugh and his boys will look to outdo their rivals by giving Rutgers a beat down for the ages.

The Pick: Michigan -27.5

Washington -8.5 at Oregon

The fact that Oregon is apparently going to sport some cool “Webbed Feet” jerseys this week, should be enough to make anyone watch this game.  From a football stand-point though, Washington, after stomping out Stanford last week, is looking to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12.  Washington hasn’t beating Oregon in over a decade and the cards should line up for them this year.  They have the number one offense (45 PPG) and defense (12 PPG) in the Pac-12 but let us look at this in depth. . . three of the offenses they’ve played were Idaho, Rutgers and Portland State – not exactly the kind of heavyweights selection committees faun over. . . Last week’s huge win over Stamford had the Cardinal missing three offensive linemen, and two starters in their secondary – add to the fact that the Stanford Cardinal have no real answer at quarterback – safe to say it was a good time to catch them.  The only time Washington faced a real offense was against Arizona, where they came away with the win, 35-28.  . . College football pundits have been talking about the decline of Oregon, but one thing you cannot deny is that they can still score points (40ppg) and rack up over 500 yards a game.  Oregon lost last week to a Washington State team that will give anyone fits, and before that lost by three points in back to back weeks to Nebraska and Colorado.  Not saying Washington will lose this match up, but Oregon is going to come out with something to prove in what could be a “let-down” type of game for Washington.

The Pick: Oregon +8.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Colorado/USC Over 48.5; Michigan -15.5; Notre Dame +13 and Toledo -5.

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Stop Babying Quarterbacks

While watching Russell Wilson on Monday Night Football a few things occurred to me. . . The first of many things is that the NFL and it’s fans love / hate quarterbacks.  The position of quarterback is easily the most overly glorified and overpaid in probably all of sports.  Do you need a quarterback to win in the NFL?  Duh.  I’m not saying the position isn’t important – just overly glorified and overpaid.  Keep up with me here. . .

Whoever started giving quarterbacks credit for “wins” deserves to be shot.  Starting quarterbacks are not  the equivalent to starting pitchers in baseball.  There is not a win-loss column tied in with their stat sheet.  Another notion that needs to be faded away is how quarterbacks fare when playing “head to head.”  It’s ridiculous.  When football pundits bring up records of Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning, it’s the most absurd concept because the only time they are on the field together is when they shake hands at the end of the game. . . Peyton Manning versus Ray Lewis is a better head to head match up; or even Tom Brady verses Rex Ryan is a headline more worthwhile.

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The second thing that came to my mind was how quarterbacks are “sheltered” and protected when they are struggling.  Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck have come under some criticism this season (fairly and unfairly).  In the case of Tannehill, who was just inked to a contract extension before the season started for six years and $95 million – has looked flat out bad.   In the midst of his struggles, those running to his defense have said – he has no weapons, it’s bad coaching and it’s a bad offensive line.  Oh really?  So he’s having the same  problems Carolina’s Cam Newton is having and he seems to be just fine.  Maybe its just a point of ability.  Cam, has been making due with very little for his whole career it seems and he just makes it work.  Tannehill has the same issues as Cam but looks bad handling it.  That’s not saying Tannehill can’t be a starting quarterback in the league – he just may be in a class with many starting quarterbacks, who needs a better cast around him.  The same can be said for Andrew Luck.  Since Luck has arrived in Indianapolis he has carried this franchise.  With the Colts off to a slow start, the pundits started tossing shots at Andrew Luck and his interception rate this year.  Slow down.  Luck has to throw the ball at a much higher rate than the Russell Wilson’s and  Ryan Tannehill’s in the league, and he – much like Tannehill and Newton – doesn’t have much to work with.   So why does one excuse work for one and not the other?  Furthermore, why doesn’t that elevate the perception of one like Cam Newton?

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The third issue that came to my mind had me focused right back on the Monday Night Football game between the Seahawks and the Lions.   While Jon Gruden and 80% of social media were drooling over every little thing Russell Wilson did on the field – nobody was seeing the big picture.   Russell Wilson was playing against a bad Detroit Lions defense and the Seahawks offense seemed to be relying  on broken plays, in order to move the ball downfield.  When Russell Wilson was ducking, dodging and chucking – sure it was getting the job done, against a terrible Lions team – but for how long will that realistically take you?  Lately,  Wilson seems to do enough to get his team into field goal range, while his defense handles the opposition.  If that formula sounds familiar,  there’s good reason why.  It was the same formula that Tim Tebow and the Broncos had a few years back that wasn’t embraced by the media and social media alike.  It’s the same. damn. thing.

The NFL quarterback is the equivalent of a spoiled kid who is called an under-achiever.  If he doesn’t achieve anything, it’s not his fault and when he does, he is carried on the shoulders of those who support him.  Let your eyes be the judge, it’s really not difficult.  Or just keep pacifying the reality that the era of “quarterback nurturing” has gotten out of control.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

Indianapolis Colts 2015 Preview

The Indianapolis Colts and their fans are thinking “Super Bowl or bust” for every single season in which Andrew Luck is the starting quarterback.  Although one can’t blame them for taking that simplistic route to elevate their expectations, there has to be a dose of reality sprinkled in here and there, just to “level the playing field” – so to speak.   The Colts play in a division that they win by default (in a worse case scenario, they split games with the Texans and sweep the Jaguars and Titans) and they have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Andrew Luck.

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Luck has been money for the Colts since day one.  Last season he lit up the scoreboard with forty touchdown passes and threw for over 4,700 yards.  His sixteen interceptions may look like a high amount but if you look at his work as a whole, it’s amazing it’s only sixteen.  The Colts defense usually lets down Luck enough times that he has to throw from behind and the run attack has never complimented Luck well.  Add to the fact he threw 616 times last season – to only come out of that with sixteen interceptions is impressive.

The Colts hope to have balance this year in their offense with the additional help coming from veteran Frank Gore in the backfield.  The former 49er is working with easily the best quarterback he’s ever been on the field with and brings with him a workhorse work ethic.  Gore has kept himself healthy the last few years and it’s key that he does that again before the likes of Boom Herron and Zurlon Tipton start getting carries.  If that happens, this offense is back to square one.

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The Colts found a strong offensive linemen in the second-round of last year’s draft in Jack Mewhort.  He was impressive enough at left guard that he is being promoted to right tackle this season.  That gives the Colts a nice combo at the tackle spots where left tackle Anthony Castonzo protects Luck’s blindside.  The Colts scout team took things to new levels by signing the number-one-overall pick in the 2012 Draft. . . the 2012 Canadian Football Draft, but it’s a number-one-overall pick regardless. Ben Heenan left the CFL to join the Colts and is expected to pick things up quickly and help fill a much needed void at their guard position.

TY Hilton has proven he was steal in the third-round of the 2012 NFL Draft and was rewarded for his efforts this off-season with a five-year, $65 million deal.  TY is one of those non-prototypical number-one wide receivers, similar to a DeSean Jackson – both small in stature but speedy and aggressive.  Hilton is a competitor and along with Andrew Luck, has helped to form one of the better quarterback/receiver threats in the league.  The Colts signed veteran Andre Johnson in the off-season, which gives Johnson his opportunity to take his greatness to another level now playing with Luck.  Unfortunate thing for Johnson is that he is more on the downside than the upside of his career – but don’t tell him that.  The Texans were a mess at the quarterback position and he still had eighty-five receptions.  Donte Moncrief has the potential to be a good receiver in this league but he’ll be fighting off first-round pick Phillip Dorset to be number-three on the depth chart.

This 3-4 defense will need all the help from their linebackers while the front three get it together during the season.  Josh Chapman returns to play mediocre nose tackle and he’ll be joined by new defensive end Kendall Langford who the Colts are hoping will bring some of the intensity from the St. Louis Rams’ attack with him.

Adding Trent Cole in the off-season was a “big-get” and will help their pass rushing immediately.  Some thought the Colts paid too much for veteran D’Qwell Jackson last season, but he continued to be a tackling machine, racking up 138 last year.  Robert Mathis is expected back by mid-season which means the youngster Bjoern Werner and Johathan Newsome will get their chances to show what they got.  Werner was a former first-round selection in 2013 and Newsome was a fifth-round pick out of Ball State who surprised many and found himself out on the field a lot.

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Safety Mike Adams is more of a ball-hawking safety than an aggressor but did the job well enough to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl last season.  The star of the secondary though is Vontae Davis who had four interception and nineteen passes deflected last year.  Greg Toler hasn’t stood out as anything more than “another guy in the secondary” but he is in a contract year, so if he is ever going to make any noise, now would be the time.

The Colts added some veteran help in the two former Miami Hurricanes Frank Gore and Andre Johnson but did not do much to shore up this defense.  Head coach Chuck Pagano has to show that he is a good head coach that can rely on more than his quarterback bailing him out, week to week.  Getting into the playoffs should be relatively easy, but the playoffs will be another story.

Predicted Record: 10-6

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Andrew Luck, TY Hilton, Jack Mewhort, D’Qwell Jackson

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Is Andrew Luck the Most “Important” QB in the NFL?

There are many fine lines in the english language.   In the NFL, nearly every word gets twisted and bent to mean two different things. For some it’s a compliment to be called a “game manager,” meanwhile to others, it’s a slap in the face.  The word “elite” is thrown around so much that the word has lost it’s meaning. . . and “being a leader” has been tied in to one’s body language, demeanor, work ethic and even “command of the huddle.”   In the NFL, no position is more talked about, celebrated and scrutinized than that of quarterback.  Some have the silly belief that you need a top flight or elite quarterback in order to succeed – dismissing all other positions of equal importance on the football field.  Not saying that the quarterback position is futile or that it doesn’t help to have a top notch quarterback on a football team to  pave a way to success, but most times the conversation gets out of control.

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Ever since Andrew Luck was drafted out of Stanford and handed the reigns of the Indianapolis Colts franchise, he has been touted as “the next big thing.”  He very well may be and in today’s NFL world where many believe the quarterback is the do all end all to a team’s success, Luck is under a huge microscope, with every snap and read of his being examined by so-called “experts.”

So many people want to talk analytics to defend their position but to make the statement of Andrew Luck being the most important quarterback in the NFL, all it takes is common sense.

Andrew Luck has earned the right to be mentioned with the future hall of famers and “elite” class of today’s quarterbacks, which includes: Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  When it comes to those who are his peers : Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan fill out the “comparison tree.”

There is no denying what the first four do for their teams.  They have all made their name in the history books, one way or another and contain all the traits needed to be “elite.”  Let’s not forget though  in the case of Brady and Rodgers – their teams carried the weight when these two went down in previous seasons.  In 2008, the Patriots lost Brady to injury in the first quarter against the Chiefs in their season opener.  What happened the rest of the season was back up quarterback Matt Cassell came in and threw for over 3600 yards and 21 touchdowns and led the Patriots to a 10-6 record.  The Pats missed out on the division crown, but a 10 win season generally keeps folks employed and happy.  In 2013, Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a week nine hit against Chicago, which sidelined him until the final week of the season.  Coach Mike McCarthy used a “musical chairs carousel” of quarterbacks that were able to check down to wideouts and keep the chains moving in Rodgers’ absence.  Thanks to a strong running game and conservative play calling, McCarthy was able to keep the Packers alive for a do or die division winning game in week 17, which they won.  In other words, these teams made due without their stud QBs.

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One can make the argument that last season, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees held their teams back rather than help them get better.  Both quarterbacks were playing as if father time caught up with them as they both seemed to lack their recognizable arm talents and their instincts seemed a bit off.   Nobody is knocking what “getting older” can do to one’s abilities, but it’s more of the fact that Peyton Manning was struggling late last season – everyone saw it, but it was the running game that helped keep the Broncos alive all year.  Things didn’t turn out so well for Brees though, as he could not help get his team out of self dug holes to win an atrocious NFC South division.

This isn’t being written to bash these men.  It’s to prove an obvious point.   The point being, if Andrew Luck quarterbacked New Orleans or Denver, those teams would’ve been better off and if Chuck Pagano had to coach a full or even half a season without Luck – the Colts seasons is as good as done.

Andrew Luck stood in the pocket for the Indianapolis Colts last year and was the only reason why the Colts racked up 11 wins this year.  Yes, the only   reason.  The running game was non-existent all season and the defense was a struggle to watch week-to-week.  The Colts offense became pretty predictable late in games, and every game was won and lost on Luck’s arm.  Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano seemed out-coached for the most part on a weekly basis, and the team seemed to do it’s best when Luck was handed over play calling responsibilities on drives.   Luck had a version of Reggie Wayne that was out-dated and moldy, while he was breaking in a youngster like Donte Moncrief.  Sure, TY Hilton is an explosive player and has become somewhat of a break out star, but he doesn’t have the ideal size to be a true number one option.

Luck doesn’t have a running game and defense to depend on like Russell Wilson does in Seattle;  he doesn’t have a Julio Jones and Roddy White combination like Matt Ryan in Atlanta and although Luck is the better pure passer and has better weapons than Cam Newton – Newton usually finds himself in close games because of Ron Rivera’s tough nosed defenses.

The word important is not to be confused or tied into the word best.  Although the NFL pundits love to spin double meanings on words.  This isn’t to say that Luck could be, will be or in some circles is considered to be “the best” quarterback in the league but the fact here is that he is definitely the most important quarterback in the league.   Without him, the Colts are easily a two win team who will be looking to draft a quarterback in the off-season.  Andrew Luck on the Seattle Seahawks could probably go undefeated.  And given the scenario where Luck is the quarterback for Green Bay, Denver or New England those teams either get better or worse case scenario, still win their respectable divisions with double digits in the win column.

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Considering how the Indianapolis Colts were only able to supply a legend like Peyton Manning two Super Bowl appearance (one victory) – one must wonder if they’ll leave Luck in that same kind of scenario.  Remember, in his hay-day – Manning was the most important quarterback in the league, without him they literally turned into a two win team.  The Colts have to help Luck out with better players around him.  He has already proven his worth to the franchise with what they’ve given him.  Now imagine if the team drafted well and put the right pieces in place.

Don’t blow this one Indy.  You’ve got the most important quarterback in the NFL.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Luck or Newton?

Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?
If this question was to be asked, most wouldn’t think twice and pick Andrew Luck.  Why? The word “prototypical” comes to mind.  Luck has the size, accuracy, arm strength and athleticism most people prefer in a pro system.  Andrew Luck came into the NFL after a stellar college career at Stamford University.  It was there under coach Jim Harbaugh that Luck was able to go toe to toe with powerhouses like USC and Oregon.  Luck entered the NFL as the most “sure thing quarterback prospect” since Peyton Manning, who he ultimately replaced in Indianapolis when he was drafted #1 overall. Luck had a squeaky clean image accompanied with a degree in architectural design as he entered the draft in 2012.  Cam Newton may not have the accuracy of Andrew Luck, but his over-all athleticism puts him in a very limited class of people in the NFL.
 While attending Auburn University, Cam Newton accomplished two things Luck didn’t in college: he won a National Championship AND a Heisman Trophy – and he did it in his one year as a starting quarterback. Cam Newton played in the SEC which is known for having the most pro-ready defensive athletes in a college conference and absolutely scorched everyone he played totaling over 4200 total yards and 50 touchdowns. Cam Newton was also taken with the number one overall pick but he didn’t come into it without some criticism.  Nobody denied his talent, but questioned his character.  Newton started his college career at Florida but was arrested for being in the possession of a stolen laptop which subsequently left him to transfer to a junior college, Binn, the following season (where he dominated as well and won the NJCAA Championship).  Also, while being recruited by Auburn, Cam’s father, Cecil Newton, was accused by Mississippi State University of trying to get “more than just a scholarship” for his son to transfer there.
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Aside from the “baggage” Cam brought with him, he immediately became “must watch” football in the NFL and even set the record for most passing yards by an NFL rookie in a season with 4051.  It was an amazing feat until it was broken the following season by Andrew Luck who threw for 4374 yards. . . And while Luck was riding that impressive rookie season, questions about Cam Newton arose.  In Cam’s rookie season, he was all smiles and energy week in and week out – but he suffered that “sophomore jinx” – you know, the same one many face after defensive coordinators have a season’s worth of tape on you, so they break down your mechanics and tendencies. . .
Cam appeared less like the jubilant kid with the big smile, and instead exemplified the characteristics of a spoiled brat.  His body language was terrible, his effort seemed questionable in losses and word around the league was that he was a hardcore “diva.” All of this was going on while Andrew Luck was being anointed as “the next big thing.”
Cam Newton
Luck found himself in a better situation than Cam Newton.  Add to the fact that Luck did bring all the tools to be star from day one – it was a smooth transition. Consider that while Andrew Luck was being coached in his rookie season by a great offensive mind in Bruce Arians and was helped along the way by having future hall of famer, Reggie Wayne to throw to – it was in Luck’s favor not  to fail.  Cam Newton on the other hand had a defensive minded coach in Ron Rivera and although he had a future hall of famer in Steve Smith to throw to – Steve Smith is not the prototypical build or personality as Reggie Wayne is.  There was also something Cam needed to learn that Andrew Luck already understood.  Cam had to realize, he doesn’t have to try to do it all.
While in college, Cam literally was Mr. Do-It-All.  Due to his amazing abilities he was able to manipulate his talents to his advantage and take it to anybody he faced. . . at the college level.  In his rookie season, he pretty much played the same way but as previously mentioned, he found himself struggling by year two.  While people questioned his maturity and actual ability, Cam Newton himself realized he needed to be a better leader and study the game more because all he knows is to win, and that’s what he needs to do.  By his third season Cam polished his mechanics a bit more, was more in tuned with reading defenses and most importantly showed patience in the pocket.  He had his lowest totals in passing and rushing yards but that’s because he understood he didn’t have to rush things or try win the game on every throw.  Carolina had one of the best defenses in the league – when you have that on your side, as a quarterback the best thing to do is keep drives alive and limit the turnovers, which is what he did and helped lead Carolina to a 12-4 record, bringing Cam to the playoffs for the first time.  Cam had to restrain his instincts and sacrifice personal stats for the betterment of his team – which is what a leader does.
Andrew-Luck-throwing
Andrew Luck has found himself in the playoffs in the two years he’s played, and under two different head coaches. Most thought Andrew Luck’s numbers would’ve been higher by his second season but they actually lessened from 4374 passing yards to 3822.  He did cut his interception numbers in half from 18 to 9 but alot of these stats are due to the fact that he threw the ball less under coach Chuck Pagano . . . which seemed to make no sense.  In a league where it benefits you to throw the ball, especially with a talent under center like Luck – many were left scratching their heads as to why Luck was being held back.
Keep in mind that while Cam Newton is in a division where he has to win in shootouts against the Falcons’ Matt Ryan and the Saints’ Drew Brees – Andrew Luck has had the luxury of playing the Titans and the Jaguars twice a year – add to the fact that Houston was terrible last year, which made that division a cake walk.
Is there a clear cut advantage of picking either Andrew Luck or Cam Newton?  To some there might be.  It all depends on the type of quarterback you’d rather have under center.  Andrew Luck brings what every team wishes they had in terms of character, intellect and ability to the position. Cam Newton brings a package we’ve never seen at this position and has showed that when he applies himself he has the smarts to break down defenses and make the intelligent decisions come game time.  Both are still young in their careers and it should be a fun ride for us, the fans to enjoy for a long time.
G.W. Gras
twitter @GeeSteelio