They lived in the city of Baltimore, they live in the city of Indianapolis, they had Tony Dungy, they have Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians, they had Dallas Clark, they have Dwayne Allen, they had Jacob Tamme, they have Coby Fleener, they had the 4-3 defense, they have the 3-4 defense, they had Johnny Unitas, they had Peyton Manning, and now they have Andrew Luck.
The Colts have been at the top and the bottom of the NFL in the last few years, and I didn’t expect them to be back near the upper echelon so quickly. About a week into the season, I sat at one of my colleagues house’s watching the Chicago Bears dismantle the Colts, and I foolishly predicted Indianapolis would win only five games in 2012. Ten weeks through the season, they sit 6-3. A big reason why the Colts have surpassed that mark and made me look like I was three sheets to the wind when I said that is rookie signal-caller Andrew Luck. The No. 1 overall selection has been excellent and his raw statistics — 57.5 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, 9 interceptions — don’t do him justice.
He’s dealt with endless pressure from pass rushers, seemingly avoiding them at ease with subtle steps that enable him to slide laterally or climb the pocket profusely while keeping his eyes up throughout and then make eye-popping throws. Many of these throws have come on drive-extending third downs, and many have come vertically. Luck has thrown vertically on 27.1 percent of his passes, per Advanced NFL Stats, and one of those came against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
The play call was play action and the result was a 27-yard completion to Allen. Prior to the snap, Luck was under center with “12″ personnel; one tailback stood behind him at a depth of roughly seven yards while the two tight ends were stationed at the end of the formation to Luck’s right. “Twin” receivers were on the opposite side to Luck’s left, and they’d be running clear-out routes.
Reggie Wayne, the furthest to Luck’s left, was going to be running a double move, an out-and-up. Simultaneously, the slot receiver would be running across the hashes in what would become an over route. These two routes would be vital to this play even though they weren’t the primary options; they were the reason why Allen would get open because Wayne’s double move would clear out the cornerback while the slot receiver was in charge of dragging the safeties to the far side of the field, finally allowing Allen to run into the hole of the defense.
Another key to this was going to be the Luck’s play-action fake. If executed properly, it would hold the Jacksonville linebackers and give Allen enough time to run his deep crossing route that consisted of going underneath the SAM and over the MIKE (“USOM”) linebackers. And it did, allowing Allen to run his route freely.
After faking the hand-off, Luck whipped his head around and focused his eyes down the field. He quickly looked down the middle of the field and to his right before looking left, where he was going to be throwing the ball. Allen was running in between the linebackers and safeties, and Luck threw a sky-high pass after climbing a collapsing pocket.
Play-action and the deep game in general are going to be significant tomorrow against the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick’s defense has given up the most plays (47) of 20 or more yards against the pass and they’re also giving up 8.1 yards per attempt, which is tied for third worst.
It’s Safe to say there should be plenty more opportunities for Luck to find Allen down the seam again.