Indianapolis Colts fans are fortunate, if early indications are a true preview of future returns.
No matter which way you slice it, Andrew Luck’s rookie season outpaces that of the then-record setting rookie season by former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. And as I have stated all along, this has been with a smaller pool of talent than what Manning had his first go-around (mainly along the offensive line). Very few teams have ever had a Hall-of-Fame quarterback immediately succeeded by a quality rookie or first-year starter. You obviously have Joe Montana and Steve Young , which may be the only legitimate example of this phenomenon in the modern NFL.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Luck’s rookie season was better than any could have imagined, but the sample size is too small to begin annoiting him as “the Next Great Quarterback” of the NFL. It is, however, unique in the sense that Luck accomplished so many things that no other rookie quarterback before him has done in the history of the NFL. If Indianapolis can build a decent offensive line and shore up some other key areas on the defense, there is a good chance this will be an elite team again much sooner than we could have hoped for.
Now on to the final comparisons.:
There really is no comparison between the success of the two players final rookie records. Luck ended at 11-5 with a playoff appearance. In the final four games of the season, the Luck-led Colts notched a third straight 3-1 quarter. They ahd wins over Tennessee (27-23, week 14), Kansas City (20-13, week 16), and Houston (28-16, week 17). The week 17 game against the Texans is even more impressvie when you consider that of the two teams, the Colts were the ones who really had nothing to play for. Win or lose, they were locked in to the #5 AFC seed. The Texans, had the won, would have earned the #1 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye. As we all know, that didn’t happen. The only loss of fourth quarter was in week 15, also against the Texans (29-17) in Houston at Reliant Stadium. The playoff game didn’t end nearly the way Colts fans hoped, losing to eventual Super Bow champion Baltimore 24-9.
Manning ended 1998 with a 3-13 record. Another quarter season, another flip from Luck’s record. Manning went 1-3, losing to Atlanta (28-21, week 14), Seattle (27-23, week 16), and Carolina (29-17, week 17). Manning only win was against Cincinnati (39-26, week 15), where he threw 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Manning would make the playoffs in the following year (and every year thereafter except for 2002), but did not come close to qualifying in his rookie season.
Final Rookie Year Stats
Luck’s final stats were astounding, considering all the changes the Colts endured before and during the season. For 2012, Luck completed 54.1% of his passes (339 completions on 627 attempts). He broke Cam Newton’s rookie record for passing yards in a season with 4,374 yards, and came just three scores shy of tying Manning’s rookie record of 26 touchdowns (a mark that Russell Wilson tied this year). The biggest issues were the number of sacks Luck took (41, and nevermind the actual number of hits he endured), and the interceptions (18, and his total turnover number balloons up to 23 when you factor in lost fumbles). The picks, plus the low completion percentage, give him the average QB rating of 76.5.
But when you complare those to the numbers Manning ended with in ’98, they don’t look to bad. Manning had a slightly higher completion percentage (56.7), but also completed fewer overall passes (326) on fewer attempts (575). Manning’s then rookie-record of 3,739 yards is 635 yards less than Luck’s record. Manning had the 26 scores, but also threw ten more interceptions than Luck did (28). His QB rating was also slightly lower than Luck’s (71.2).
4th Quarter Individual Game Stats
Week 14, Tennessee – 16/34 (47.1%), 196 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 50.6 QBR
Week 15, Houston – 13/27 (48.1%), 186 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTS, 95.6 QBR
Week 16, Kansas City – 17/35 (48.6%), 205 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 76.5 QBR
Week 17, Hoston – 14/28 (50%), 191 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 96.0 QBR
Week 14, Atlanta – 19/27 (70.4%), 159 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 79.1 QBR
Week 15, Cincinnati – 17/26 (65.4%), 210 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 128.7 QBR
Week 16, Seattle – 23/39 (59.0%), 335 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 84.9 QBR
Week 17, Carolina – 17/34 (50%), 225 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 56.6 QBR
By the end of each man’s respective first season, definitive improvement in their individual games was apparent. Each man threw more scores than picks, and had a higher QB rating average in the final four games than their overall season average. The only key thing we need to point out is that Luck’s completion percentage struggles lasted until the end of the year, where he completed less than 50% in 3 games, and hit exactly 50% in the final week.
And while Manning threw more interceptions, (5 to 2), he also attempted a few more passes (126 to 124), completed more (76 to 60) for more yards (959 to 778) and more touchdowns (7 to 6). Based on this, it’s clear that #18 finished off his rookie season better than that of #12.
Rookie Year NFL Records
Authors note: I do not claim this is, by any means, a comprehensive list of Manning’s or Luck’s NFL rookie records, held at the time of the conclusion of each man’s inaugural season. I could have and likely did miss some.
Most yards (game) – 433 (vs. Miami)
Most yards (season) – 4,374
Most 300+ games – 6
Most wins – 11 (shared w/ Russell Wilson)
Most game winning drives – 7
Most 4th quarter comebacks – 6
Most completions – 339
Most attempts – 627
Most yards (season) – 3,739
Most TDs – 26
Consecutive games with a TD thrown – 13
Total # of games with at least 1 TD – 15
Most completions – 326
Most attempts – 575
Both men had stellar first years in the NFL. We know how Manning;s has turned out. With a few tweaks here and there, we could have a good idea of how Andrew Luck’s could potentially be. It will be interesting to see what additions the Colts make in personnel this off season to become a legitimate contender.
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