INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck studies the sport of football incessantly.
When something works, he wants to know why. When something fails, he scours game tape to find a solution. And when Luck makes a mistake, well, he quickly takes the blame.
Five days after rushing his offense to the line of scrimmage and calling an ill-advised quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal from the Denver 1-yard line, Indy’s third-year quarterback didn’t change his assessment of what he described earlier this week as a poor play call.
“It’s still a stupid decision, and it will remain so for perpetuity,” Luck said, drawing laughter from a crowd of reporters huddled around his locker Thursday.
Luck contends he should have been smart enough to realize the Broncos loaded up against the run and that the Colts (0-1) didn’t have the right personnel on the field to execute it.
The result: Luck was stopped at the 2-yard line, leaving the Colts without points and prompting Luck to uncharacteristically slam his helmet on the ground. Indy wound up losing the game 31-24.
Rather than repeatedly relive that moment, Luck believes he learned a critical lesson about assessing the situation and calling time out if needed. It’s a mistake he’s not likely to make again.
For Luck, harsh self-critiques are merely part of a regular process.
A year ago, after cutting his regular season interception total in half — from 18 to nine — he was picked off seven times in two playoff games.
During the Colts’ offseason workouts, Luck brought up the number before anyone could even ask about it and quickly acknowledged that he had to protect the ball better if Indianapolis was going to make a Super Bowl run.
Even when asked about being hit too frequently or the struggles of the running game, Luck often blames himself for not getting the Colts into the right play.
While teammates and coaches have embraced Luck’s combination of blatant honesty and personal accountability, they also insist that one of the league’s best young quarterbacks doesn’t need to unnecessarily shoulder the burden. Luck turns 25 on Friday.
“We all know that he’s an accountable guy, but I think as the head football coach, I’ve got to do a better job of managing that situation for our entire football team,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s not on just Andrew.”
In many ways, there’s little to quibble with on the pro resume.
Luck is 22-11 in the regular season, 1-2 in the playoffs, has produced 11 game-winning drives, the second-largest comeback in playoff history and has won a division title. He holds the NFL record for most yards passing in a player’s first two NFL seasons (8,196), has rushed for more touchdowns (10) than any quarterback other than Cam Newton since 2012 and could soon reach the top five on some of the Colts’ career passing charts.
But Luck is a consummate student of football.
The valedictorian of his high school class and an architectural major at Stanford still spends countless hours trying to refine his craft and look for an edge.
And after last weekend’s loss in Denver, Luck figures there are plenty of areas he can improve upon before Monday night’s home opener against defending NFC East champion Philadelphia (1-0).
“A lot of lessons to take. Got to execute, got to convert third downs,” Luck said after his latest study session. “I can tell you there’s probably a bit of a more motivating factor when you do something wrong and you watch it on film and just go clean it up.”
Especially when something goes as wrong as it did in Denver.
It’s a mistake Luck could have avoided by calling a timeout or waiting for subs to come in, and it’s a mistake he promises not to make again.
“I knew where the ball was, so it was stupid,” Luck said.
Notes: Defensive tackle Josh Chapman (ankle), linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring), defensive lineman Arthur Jones (shoulder), offensive lineman Joe Reitz (ankle) and cornerback Greg Toler (ribs) did not practice Thursday. Receiver Reggie Wayne sat out to get some extra rest. Center Khaled Holmes (ankle) and running back Ahmad Bradshaw (rest) did limited work Thursday. … The Colts signed running back Zurlon Tipton to the practice squad and released offensive tackle Reid Fragel from the practice squad. Tipton was waived earlier this week. The moves came after outside linebacker Cam Johnson went on injured reserve with a left elbow injury.