Baller Mind Frame

Why Andrew Luck will (and won’t) Break Peyton Manning’s Records

Image courtesy of NFLfan18/Flickr.

Image courtesy of NFLfan18/Flickr.

 

From the very beginning Peyton Manning was looked at as the man to supplant all the various records set before him by the great quarterbacks of years past. Even records that people thought could not be broken (Dan Marino’s single season passing touchdown mark) Manning erased and replaced with his own vaulted numbers.

Now, as Manning marches past Brett Favre’s all-time passing touchdown record, I offer to you the man who could shimmy Peyton down the board a peg in about 15 years. For a franchise to draft a player like Peyton Manning is a fluke, even with the first overall pick. Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell are both prime examples of first overall quarterbacks gone horribly wrong. To do it twice is a miracle, but I believe the Colts have done just that in drafting Andrew Luck. And the statistics back it up.

Year

Team

G

Att

Comp

Pct

Yds

Yds/G

TD

Int

Sck

Rate

Peyton Manning

1999

Indianapolis Colts

16

533

331

62.1

4,135

258.4

26

15

14

90.7

1998

Indianapolis Colts

16

575

326

56.7

3,739

233.7

26

28

22

71.2

 

 

Total

32

1108

657

59.4

7874

246.05

52

43

36

80.95

Andrew Luck

2013

Indianapolis Colts

16

570

343

60.2

3,822

238.9

23

9

32

87

2012

Indianapolis Colts

16

627

339

54.1

4,374

273.4

23

18

41

76.5

 

 

Total

32

1197

682

57.15

8196

256.15

46

27

73

81.75

On a glance you’ll see that across the board Manning and Luck are very comparable through their first two seasons as pros. Luck has more yards, more attempts, more completions, and less interceptions (translating to a better rating). Manning had more touchdowns, a better completion percentage, and less sacks (I mean a lot less sacks). So the question has to be asked, “can Luck surpass Manning’s records by the time he hangs up his cleats?” Here is the “yes” and the “no” to that question.

Yes – Anything is possible, so you have to give Luck a shot, as unlikely as you think it might be personally. Logically, he actually has a great shot at it. Luck is coming in when the game looks to be gearing itself towards the pass more than ever. Luck inherited a team that was built around a pass happy offence. Andrew also comes in when player safety and injury prevention rules are being beefed up. In short, the recipe has a much better base than the one handed to Mr. Manning. Manning missed one entire season due to injury, so if Luck can put up solid numbers and avoid that lost season I don’t see how he can’t break the records for both yards (that Manning will set this year or next) and passing TD’s. All this is assuming he plays as long as Manning does (actual number of years still to be decided). Luck also has better mobility than Manning did/does. This should mean that he takes less punishment, even in terms of being hit (though the sack totals don’t exactly bare out that thought). There is also the decline of the Jaguars and Titans. The Titans were a powerhouse when Manning was in the AFC South, and even the Jaguars were known to make the playoffs at times. This isn’t to say that these teams can’t be turned around, but both look like they need long term retooling. This year Luck is on pace for over 43 touchdowns, and 4500+ yards. That would be better than what Peyton did in his third year. There is also the chance that sometime in the next 15 years that the league might go to 18 games a year. That would significantly increase how quickly Luck could catch up.

No- Statically speaking, the odds of one organization drafting quarterbacks with the first overall pick back-to-back and having them turn out to be the best passer and the second best passer in league history would be somewhere in the neighborhood of being hit by lighting while hitting a hole-in-one after winning the lottery. To compound this the odds of Luck averaging 30+ touchdowns a season for nearly 20 years is pretty slim. Compound this even further with the fact that Andrew Luck has to play J.J. Watt twice a year. Peyton Manning never had to deal with a player like him when he was in the AFC South. Two years in Luck is six touchdowns behind, and Manning also had that 55 touchdown season last year, that sort of sped things up for him. The nearly 20 more sacks a season Luck is averaging aren’t all contributed to Watt, but he is a factor in there. Manning had the benefit of being behind a line that was arguably the best pass blocking line in history. But really, the real reason Luck CAN’T pass the records is that he doesn’t operate like Peyton Manning. Manning heads to the line and then decides what play is going to work. Luck is told a play and then has to execute. Yes he can call and audible, but it’s not the same. Manning’s yards have come so easily for this reason. It’s not his arm strength, or his accuracy, or his athleticism. Sure, Luck could learn how to do this in time, but I doubt he could execute it the way Manning does now.

I was speaking to a buddy of mine the other night when I came up with this. I mentioned that both Manning and Brady are in their late 30’s and will both likely retire within the next three years. I hypothesized that Luck could break all of Manning’s records because of the reasons given in the “Yes” section, but what my friend said next struck me. He said “Andrew Luck is the future face of the NFL”. To be fair I think once Manning and Brady retire it will be Aaron Rogers who is the default face of the NFL. Secondary faces will include J.J. Watt and players like Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco. Luck, Cam Newton and some of the other young guns still have to show consistency or win a championship to be in the discussion, but it’s a valid point. The future of the sport is going to be on the shoulder of players like Andrew Luck. All things considered, the future isn’t looking too bad at all.

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