New York Jets: Andrew Luck story provides a cautionary tale
By Paul A. Esden Jr.
Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck shocked the football world with his retirement. Here’s why it should be a cautionary tale for the New York Jets.
After ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter broke the story of the year that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was stepping away from the game at the tender age of 29, the NFL world was set ablaze.
The Colts went from Super Bowl favorite to a great unknown.
During the chaos, Luck was goofing around with teammates on the sideline of the team’s third preseason game vs the Chicago Bears, having no idea that everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium knew his true intentions.
When it became painfully evident that the cat was out of the bag, Luck was ushered off the field by team officials but not before being bombarded by a slew of boos from the blue and white faithful.
Last thing on Andrew Luck —
Colts fans are absolute ? for booing the same guy that’s broken his body for them.
If they want to boo, they should be booing management or the offensive line over the last 6 years.#NFL
— TRP ? (@trplive) August 25, 2019
To be candid Colts fans were right to boo, but they shouldn’t have directed their boos at Luck, but rather the Colts organization.
Let me explain.
The Colts have had it all over the last 20 years.
In 1998, the Colts selected Peyton Manning No. 1 overall. During his 18-year NFL career, he won two Super Bowls, became one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and he’s a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After the team moved on from their star quarterback, Indianapolis fans ‘suffered’ for all of one season before stumbling into another No. 1 pick in Andrew Luck. How lucky can you get?
But New York Jets fans are painfully aware that it’s more than just drafting a potential franchise quarterback, that’s just half the problem.
The other slice of the deal is surrounding your investment with as much talent as possible, in particular on the offensive line.
The Colts didn’t do that and wasted the career of what could’ve been a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in Andrew Luck.
Since drafting Luck with the first overall pick in 2012, the Colts have invested a grand total of two first-round picks in the offensive line. Those two investments came in the last three years, which was too little too late.
During his seven-year career Luck was sacked 174 times. That’s a healthy average of 25 takedowns a season. If you consider that Andrew didn’t play a snap during the 2017 season, that average amount of sacks increases to 29 sacks per season over a six-year span.
During Luck’s career, the Colts ranked in the bottom 15 in sacks allowed four times out of six opportunities. 2018 was an outlier with the Colts being the best team in the league at protecting the quarterback.
Outside of that 2016 and 2017, the Colts finished in the bottom five in sacks allowed with 100 combined sacks on Luck (and that doesn’t include quarterback hurries and hits).
In Andrew Luck’s impromptu retirement speech he pointed to the last four years of injuries as the main reason he’s choosing to leave the game.
You shouldn’t blame Luck for leaving, you should blame the Colts for not protecting their investment. This is a cautionary tale for teams around the league, if you believe you have a franchise quarterback, you have to do everything in your power to protect him.
"I know that I am unable to pour my heart and soul into this position. … it's sad, but I also have a lot of clarity in this."
Andrew Luck speaks on his retirement from the NFL. (via @rtv6) pic.twitter.com/cs5HAOQT2G
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2019
The New York Jets are the perfect team to take a strong moral lesson from this cryptic tale: protect Sam Darnold or else.
The green and white haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2006 when they drafted two: D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Both of their careers have already started and ended before the team has even given a second thought of investing in the trenches.
If the team truly believes they have their first franchise quarterback since ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath, then they must do everything in their power to give Darnold’s supporting cast a facelift. The front office did an admirable job this offseason with the additions of Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and key acquisitions on the offensive line in Ryan Kalil and Kelechi Osemele.
It’s a solid start and the new general manager of the squad, Joe Douglas, is a former offensive lineman and clearly realizes the importance of the position.
Often times horrible things have to happen in history for humans to change. Luck retiring is a horrible thing for the NFL, but hopefully, the New York Jets can take some heavy notes from this cautionary tale and prevent that from ever happening with Sam Darnold.