On his first NFL pass, Peyton Manning threw a 48-yard touchdown to Marvin Harrison. It was the first game of the 1998 preseason for the Indianapolis Colts, and it was also the beginning of quite the little offensive dynasty. We’re far from sure what the NFL holds for Andrew Luck, but the Colts first overall pick in 2012, and the man tasked with replacing the 1998 first overall pick, started his career off right with a 63-yard touchdown pass to running back Donald Brown.
It was far from a zinger from Luck — it was a little quick-read dump pass to Brown, and the back did the rest, weaving through the Rams’ defense for about 60 yards after the catch. Nonetheless, owner Jim Irsay was predictably over-impressed, and he went right to Twitter with his thoughts.
As Ben Muth of Football Outsiders pointed out, “That screen pass Luck threw was off Spider 3 action. As in Spider 3 Y Banana of Gruden QB camp fame.”
Yes indeed, Gruden did go over the wonders of “Spider 3 Y Banana” play concept in his “Gruden’s QB Camp” show with Luck, and that was the general idea on the first score. Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, Luck’s former teammate at Stanford, also chimed in.
After an inconclusive second drive, Luck looked like a five-year veteran on his third. He eluded pressure, looked off defenders when needed, and connected for his second score of the day on a 23-yard touchdown pass to receiver Austin Collie. On that play, Luck displayed perfect mechanics, and the ball was delivered to Collie with excellent touch and velocity as a result.
On the Colts’ fourth drive, Luck led the team on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with a 1-yard touchdown by running back Delone Carter. After that, Luck’s day was done, and he was replaced by Drew Stanton to finish out the first half.
The final score of 38-3 was probably more meaningful to the Rams, who couldn’t get anything going on offense, and whose defense was gashed throughout the day. The real story was Luck, who finished with 10 completions on 16 attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Had Colts receivers not dropped a couple of his passes, Luck’s first NFL turn would have been even more impressive.
Yes, it’s preseason football, and yes, it’s pretty obvious that the Rams’ defense needs a lot of work — especially in the secondary. But just as it was for the Washington Redskins with second-overall pick Robert Griffin, you love to see those early returns with a player in whom you’ve invested so much.