Even the greatest quarterbacks can’t overcome bad teams, especially not in their rookie year. It’s something that I have always believed and will continue to believe until forever. Look at Peyton Manning, one of the most prolific passers of our time, and a number one overall draft pick. He came into a team that was legitimately terrible in 1998, and the Colts were capable of only 3 wins. Even recent teams that have been resurgent with new, talented quarterbacks, like the Panthers and Cam Newton were only better by a handful of games after Newton took over.
I’m trying to say that the Colts were never a bad team. They were relatively unchanged from 2010-2011, except for the Peyton Manning injury, and they ended up winning 8 fewer games. There was surprisingly little change between 2011-12 either, aside from the tight end position, which was simply replaced, and the quarterback. Andrew Luck is obviously a good quarterback, but I think the change from 2010 to 2011 and 2011 to 2012 has everything to do with how devastatingly awful Curtis Painter is
Andrew Luck has been able to find the same receivers, the defense, mostly unchanged (except for Zbikowski!) is very similar to what it was last year, much to everyone’s surprise, and the team is winning at a pace just off of what they were in 2010. Andrew Luck isn’t so much an example of a QB that made a 2-14 team better, but one that has maintained a 10-6 team.
Luck is having an excellent year thanks to the fact that he has a team around him that is capable of making plays in support. Not every top pick in the league can do that, because most other top picks don’t come to a team as well made as the Colts already were. We just forgot about their talent because Curtis Painter was such an incapable train wreck.
(For fun, Painter’s stats in 2011: 54.3 completion percentage, 6TDs 9 INTs, 171.2 Y/G 22.51 QBR.
Luck’s stats in 2012: 57.5, 10/9 292.3, 77.58
Christian Ponder in 2012: 64.1, 10/8, 200.7, 46.85.
Curtis Painter is devastatingly bad.)