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INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday was a career-day for Andrew Luck, but not the one he wants to remember for very long.
This 2018 objective of keeping things more higher percentage, and therefore underneath in the passing game, hit a different level on Sunday, with Luck finishing the afternoon with a career-low 4.1 yards per attempt.
Luck threw for just 164 yards, going 25-of-40 with 1 touchdown.
The 164 yards, follows a 179-yard outing last week, marking two of the eight smallest passing days of Luck’s career.
“I definitely wasn’t anticipating that was going to be the case,” Frank Reich said of Luck’s abbreviated passing-yard afternoon.
“But that’s the way the game went. They are a good defense, especially in this stadium. We weren’t able to stay in phase and we wanted to stay patient with the run game early. They did a good job against us.”
The Colts definitely did not stay in phase against the Eagles.
After torching the NFL on third down in the first two weeks, Luck and the offense went just 2-of-12 there on Sunday. They were 1-of-5 in the red zone, squandering chances that will keep them up late at night after losing by just 4 points.
The Colts had 5 red-zone trips on Sunday, with 3 being set up in great position thanks to the defense.
“I know we will look at the red zone especially and see some areas that we all can get better in, myself included with some of the location of throws,” Luck said after the 20-16 loss.
“In this league, every play does count. I’ve been reminded of that in these first three games. That every stinking play counts. At the end of the day, we didn’t make enough of those plays.”
The fact that the Colts have been so competitive the past two weeks, despite Luck’s quieter afternoons, is probably a good thing looking ahead.
It’s been the Indy defense doing its part to keep the Colts alive in these consecutive road contests.
While Luck continues to spread the ball around (he hit 9 different receivers again on Sunday), the deep ball was again hard to come by.
Sure, the Colts have drawn some big pass interference penalties this season, but connecting on chunk plays continues to be an issue.
Of Luck’s 25 completions on Sunday, just 4 went for more than 10 yards. Of Carson Wentz’s 25 completions, 7 went at least 13 yards. Wentz finished the day with 91 more passing yards than Luck, despite both having 25 completions.
That 4.1 yards per attempt number is something Reich knows has to change.
“That number is really important,” Reich said after evaluating the film. “Wins and losses correlate to that number.
“We just have to do a better job of getting the ball down the field, giving Andrew opportunities, calling plays where he can get the ball down the field. It’s all of us. We will continue to find ways to get that number higher.”
For the game, the Eagles outgained the Colts, 379-209.
Questions about Luck’s arm strength rose again on the game’s final play Sunday.
The Colts elected to go with big-armed backup Jacoby Brissett, over Luck, to attempt a Hail Mary.
Luck fully supported the decision, acknowledging Brissett’s strong arm. And Reich was adamant the decision doesn’t indicate Luck’s arm strength isn’t at a proper level right now.
“Had nothing to do with that,” Reich said. “It was all about getting the ball into the end zone.
“Just that he can throw it a mile. When you throw a jump ball like that, you don’t see many balls that are thrown short of the end zone like that scoring. We knew Jacoby had the ball to get into the end zone. We would have kept Andrew if we would have had it up another 10-to-15 yards.”
Making that decision is understandable and Luck can still play winning football even if his ‘Hail Mary’ arm isn’t ready to go.
But until this offense starts to produce at higher level, via the vertical passing game, defenses will continue to cheat up and make things tougher on Luck and his teammates.