After missing the entire 2018 season and seeing his team hire a new head coach, it is fair to suggest there is a lot riding on the 2018 NFL season for quarterback Andrew Luck. For now, the message seems to be optimistic coming out of Indianapolis with Luck looking forward to working with his new head coach, Frank Reich, as the Colts look to bounce back after the first losing season since the final year of Jim Caldwell as a head coach.
After getting burned by Josh McDaniels, the Colts went with the Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator of this past season by hiring Reich. With Reich doing what he was able to do in Philadelphia with backup quarterback Nick Foles, the expectations are high for what he will do with Luck in Indy.
“Frank’s demeanor, his intelligence – with Andrew, it’s going to work,” Colts president Bill Polian said earlier this week via the Indianapolis Star.
If all goes according to plan in Indy, then Luck and the Colts will rise back to the top of the AFC South. But the division is improving as well, with Deshaun Watson giving Houston life on offense (when healthy), Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette leading the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game and Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans hoping to take some steps forward after a playoff appearance this past season. As far as Luck is concerned, he is clearly and rightfully excited to see what happens with Reich.
“Going back to [Reich’s] playing days, he’s incredibly successful, and he’s been around some awesome quarterbacks,” Luck said recently according to NFL.com. “And I hope I can learn from him and ask him how Peyton or Carson or Philip did it, and find the best way for me or for whatever Colt quarterback way that is. I hope I can give him the most that I can give, and that he can help me get out of me the most that’s there.”
Luck can say how excited he is about a clean slate with a coach on the rise, but that should not overshadow the reality of the situation the Colts are going through. The 2018 season could lead to some serious decisions to be made if this does not work out as expected. Given Luck’s status of late and his contract, the Colts and Luck need for this to all to come together quickly if they are to move forward with confidence in a newly-difficult division.
Luck is signed to a five-year contract that expires at the end of the 2021 season, but there is a potential out for 2019 if the Colts feel they may be better suited in the long run to move forward with a different quarterback. If Luck can’t stay on the field due to injury concerns or his shoulder isn’t right after he does come back, that would be cause for at least discussing various options on the table. The Colts just made a coaching change with the intent on rebounding with Luck, but if Luck doesn’t return to his old self, the Colts looking at other quarterback options should not be written off.
Even if there are struggles, the Colts may feel compelled to ride out the storm in hopes of a brighter long-term future. You don’t simply move on from a quarterback as talented as Luck after just one bad season unless you have other concerns. If Luck returns to good form and plays the bulk of the 2018 season in a rejuvenated offense, it becomes easier to overlook the last few years.