Is Andrew Luck a legitimate MVP Candidate?

Luck for MVP?

11/13/12 in NFL   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Nov 8, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) rolls out of the pocket and rushes for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIREIt sounds a little ridiculous when you first hear it, but give me a chance before we start ringing those Brady and Rodgers bells too soon.  Rookies can be MVP candidates too, right?
As the first part of my case for Luck’s MVP considerations, let’s remind ourselves of his particular scenario in Indianapolis.  The Colts were a nightmare last season, losing their first 13 games of the season and finishing 2-14.  They scored over 20 points in only 3 games all of last season.  Then Jim Irsay and company made the tough decision in the offseason to part ways with one of the league’s all-time best and most dependable Quarterbacks, ending the era of Peyton Manning in Colts blue and white.
Andrew Luck came into Indianapolis not only at a time when the team was absolutely awful, but at a time when they were absolutely awful just a year after being one of the most powerful dynasties in the NFL for a decade.  The spotlight has been hovering over him all year and the comparisons to Manning will stick with him for his entire career.
So far, Luck’s Colts are 6-3.  They tied last year’s win total in their fourth game of the season, a remarkable second-half comeback victory behind Luck’s 362 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.  Oh yeah, and it was against one of the league’s MVP frontrunners and one of the toughest teams in the NFL to beat, the Green Bay Packers.  And so far, the Colts have topped 20 points in 5 of their 9 games.
Granted Luck is only one cog in the Colts system and there have been improvements in other areas.  The defense in particular has been significantly better than last year.  But Luck really doesn’t have that much help on his side of the ball.  Reggie Wayne is a premier receiver, but what do you have beyond that?  Luck’s got a backfield that’s been in constant flux between two running backs that would be second or third stringers on most other teams.  Then rounding out the main receiving core is Donnie Avery, who has been a decently steady but unspectacular number two receiver, and rookies TY Hilton and Dwayne Allen who have been mostly inconsistent with a few big plays down the line.

Oct 28, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians (left)  talks with Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck (12) on the sideline against the Tennessee Titans during a first half timeout at LP Field. Indianapolis defeated Tennessee 19-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIREThere’s still the most important half of the season to be played, but I think Luck deserves to be right up there with the top MVP candidates as of now, and I think this year features a really wide open race that currently includes Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, and Brandon Marshall.
Top 8 MVP Candidates Stats:
Aaron Rodgers – 2,383 yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs, 107.4 QB Rating
Tom Brady – 2,645 yards, 18 TDs, 3 INTs, 100.1 QB Rating
Matt Ryan – 2,771 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs, 102.6 QB Rating
Peyton Manning – 2,705 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 108.0 QB Rating
Andrew Luck – 2,631 yards, 10 TDs, 9 INTs, 79.1 QB Rating
Adrian Peterson – 1,128 yards, 5.8 yards per carry, 7 TDs
Arian Foster – 872 yards, 3.9 yards per carry, 10 TDs
Brandon Marshall – 67 receptions, 904 yards, 7 TDs
His 5 rushing touchdowns aren’t included above, but Luck is definitely near the bottom of the 8 candidates stat-wise.  The other four quarterbacks above all have QB ratings over 100, have thrown at least 18 touchdowns and less than 9 interceptions: all three of these credentials unsatisfied by Luck.
But with Luck you have to look beyond the stat sheet and see what he’s brought to Indianapolis this season.  There’s not only hope that the Colts will be a competitive team once again, there’s promise of a new face for a franchise that was in danger of facing a troublesome era of post-Manning depression.
Of those 8 potential candidates, only Luck and Peterson are part of teams that really struggled last year.  Marshall has made a huge difference in Chicago, but the Bears were still 7-3 last year before the atrocity known as Caleb Hanne took over.  But either way, the Bears are led by their defense and the Vikings have one of the league’s top defensive lines.  The only player in the above-mentioned group that may have a worse defense supporting him than Luck is Brady. 
It’s true that the Colts haven’t had the toughest of schedules so far this year, but with two meetings against Houston down the line and a game against the Patriots this next weekend, Luck has the opportunity to really make a run at an honor most rookies never even come close to flirting with.  If the Colts find their way into the AFC playoffs, expect the Luck for MVP discussion to really start heating up.
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