The Colts should be pleased that Andrew Luck has participated in three preseason games, but they need to be very worried about his arm.
It’s an open secret around the NFL that the Colts can only achieve success in 2018 if Andrew Luck returns to full strength. At first glance, his numbers during the preseason seem to indicate that he is trending towards being his old self when Week 1 arrives.
Unfortunately, the Colts and their fans have every reason to be worried about just how effective their franchise quarterback will be this season.
There’s an obvious concern over whether or not Luck can stay healthy. His recent track record on that front is certainly not great. There’s nothing the Colts can really do about that though. Frank Reich and company simply have to hope for the best.
The possibility of injury is a pretty big red flag on its own, but there’s another big reason to worry about Luck at the moment. He simply isn’t throwing the ball downfield at all during the preseason. Optimistic Colts fans will claim that’s just a product of the coaching staff protecting him.
Neutral observers should certainly raise the question over whether or not Luck’s arm strength has returned.
Average depth of target (ADOT) isn’t a commonly used statistic in all circles, but it’s a great representation of just how far down the field a quarterback is throwing the football. At the apex of his career, Luck featured an ADOT of over 10 yards per throw.
During his three preseason games this year, he’s only checking in at 5.7 yards per attempt.
That’s not just a bad number compared to his previous career averages. Such a paltry ADOT would represent one of the lowest rates in the NFL if it extends into the regular season. There’s no way the Colts offense can be successful if Luck is limited to nickel and diming defenses down the field.
He needs to be able to stretch the field vertically to set up everything else Reich’s offense wants to accomplish.
The hope for Colts fans has to be that the coaching staff will take the shackles off of Luck once the regular season begins. All of his arm strength may not have returned after his injury, but he’s got to have more than he’s been showing during the preseason.
If his ADOT doesn’t increase dramatically once the games start to really matter, the Colts are going to struggle to achieve relevance in 2018.