When is it okay to start wondering if Andrew Luck is a bust?

Indianapolis Colts, NFL

Andrew Luck will not play football this year, and it might be time to start seriously worrying if he’ll ever deliver on lofty promises.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Andrew Luck isn’t healthy and as a result the Colts season is kaput.

For a third straight year, the Indianapolis Colts are going to miss the playoffs. Coincidentally, it’s the third straight year where Andrew Luck will not have played in all 16-games. A player who was once touted as a generational talent will be entering his seventh year in the NFL next season way behind schedule.

It’s not totally irresponsible, if not a little irrational, to start wondering if Luck is closer to a bust than anything else. That’s not to say he’s a bad quarterback, rather the expectations for his career were set so astronomically high from the start that anything short of sustained success would be deemed a failure.

So far, such success has been spotty at best.

Over the first three years of Luck’s career, he looked every bit the generational talent he was advertised as. Luck played in 48 regular season games (remember when he used to start full seasons?) and six playoff games. It’s no coincidence that when Luck was healthy and actually had some weapons, the team was good.

Every generation needs a Dan Fouts, is that the realistic ceiling for Luck now?

In the last three years, Luck has played in just 12 games. The Colts have appeared in zero playoff games.

Part of this downward trajectory is directly tied to Luck not being able to stay healthy. What is perhaps most concerning is that Luck played 15-games in 2016, a year the Colts went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. That snapped the trend of having Luck play a majority of the games and the Colts still being alright.

This is why questions about Luck’s legacy so easily frustrates anyone seeking answers. The consensus remains that he’s a fantastic quarterback who is simply in the wrong place. Luck can’t stay healthy, but he’s also not in charge of drafting offensive lineman to protect. It’s his job to make throws to wide receivers, not to make sure the right ones are added to the roster.

All of this might be a moot debate in the near future. If the Colts find the right head coach and begin finally building a contender around Luck, all of a sudden it’s a different conversation. That’s not the case now, and the light at the end of the tunnel is dimming.

We’re still in a grace period where this isn’t yet seen as an Andrew Luck problem. If he’s healthy and quarterbacking the Jaguars, they’re instantly Super Bowl contenders. Minnesota might earn a first-round bye with Case Keenum under-center — imagine that team with Luck. Moreover, imagine how much brighter Luck’s legacy is if he’s not on a team stuck in the mud.

Tom Brady won in his first year as a starter. Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana both had Super Bowl rings within three years of becoming starters. Favre had one by his fifth year, the eldest Manning by year nine. All of them were consistently bringing their teams to the playoffs within three years. Those were the names Luck was compared to when he was drafted, and he’s lived up to half the hype.

Instead, Luck’s career now seems more destined to turn out like Dan Marino, or Warren Moon. Both are legendary Hall of Fame quarterbacks, neither were able to get the proper support of a Super Bowl-winning organization. Every generation needs a Dan Fouts, is that the realistic ceiling for Luck now?

No one is doubting if Luck is or can still be a legendary player. It’s okay, however, to start wondering if he’ll ever be the generational talent he was pegged. He won’t be unless the Colts either figure it out or let him go free.

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