Updated: Aug 29, 2019
In yet another episode of a star resigning during their apex, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement from football this past Saturday in a heartfelt, emotional press conference.
Michael Jordan left the NBA twice at separate peaks of his career, Michael Scott said goodbye to The Office when the show was peaking during season seven, and Pope Benedict XVI abandoned the papacy while still alive.
The back-to-back Heisman runner-up and post-Manning sanctifier enjoyed a lucrative seven-year career which showcased Luck's mastermind game management and superhuman arm, but also led to countless brutal injuries to his body--so much so that the 29-year-old superstar decided that the totality of his injuries outweighed his passion for the game, the hundred millions of future contract money and grandeur he could have accomplished.
As it sits, Luck's career is memorable for its bizarreness and his immeasurable personal throwing talent but forgettable in terms of accomplishment on the football field. 4-4 in the Playoffs with zero Super Bowls wins or appearances and a brief career spent mostly behind lousy management and a horrendous offensive line. Perhaps that's what drove Luck to this point.
In Luck's early years, when he remained on a small rookie deal, Colts management failed him and the franchise. Having a quarterback as talented as Luck on a small contract is a massive asset. But the Colts squandered the opportunity and left Luck with limited playmakers and a ghost offensive line. He got his teeth knocked in by burly 300-pound defensive linemen multiple times per game. The CTE studies are in and they draw this as a horrifying story.
Andrew Luck, a graduate of the prestigious college of Stanford, a top-flight American academic powerhouse, saw the potentially horrifying future and decided playing football wasn't worth the risk of severe permanent damage to his body.
Now, it's time to run the Ewing Theory diagnostics on this one, and boy, is it a juicy case. (The Ewing Theory, for those of you who don't regularly read my work, is a concept first created by Bill Simmons which addresses the idea of a team improving after departure of a perceived star.)
Here are three options for Indianapolis as they scramble to rebuild their offense two weeks before the season begins:
1. Jacoby Brissett
Brissett took over as quarterback two years ago when Luck missed all of the 2017-18 campaign with one of his myriad mysterious injuries. Eh, he was fine, all things considered. Possessed some duality under center--capable scrambler who could pickup yardage on designed runs as well--and could throw the ball at a pedestrian rate. Really, Brissett is a backup quarterback. Mediocre Passer With An Operating Pair of Legs is how I would describe him. The Colts may view Jacoby more optimistically than me, say, as an "Above Average Passer" or "Running Back with a Terrific Arm."
Both of those descriptions are less accurate than a blind Nathan Peterman but I could totally incision the Colts leadership embracing Brissett as the future. After all, he won four games two seasons ago! And with Chuck Pagano no less!
Maybe Brissett can summon an extra level to his game but I think I've got him figured out. In all likelihood, they'll roll with Jacoby just for this season and divulge a serious QB plan next season.
2. Find a Guy
There are always half-decent veteran quarterbacks available. Before Luck's surprising retirement, Indianapolis was a trendy AFC Champion pick. With Luck, a stellar O-line, a young group of playmakers on both sides of the ball, the Colts were set for the next five years! After pulling an incredible 180 from a roster standpoint over the past two years, Indy was a legit Super Bowl contender coming off an overachieving 10 win season with a bunch of kids and Andy Luck.
Sans Luck, the roster is still intact (unless Luck inspires an early retirement trend from like 15% of the NFL--don't rule this out over the next couple seasons). Plug in a good (not great or amazing) quarterback and the Colts could still compete. Here's a list of guys Indy could realistically acquire that could lead them to the playoffs (and hell, Nick Foles won a freaking Super Bowl):
AJ McCaron - Texans
Tyrod Taylor - Chargers
Blake Bortles - Rams
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Dolphins
Teddy Bridgewater - Saints
Nick Mullens - 49ers
Ryan Tannehill - Titans
These guys are all either backups or will be backups by week 5. They can win you football games with a dynamic supporting cast, which Indy has. To me, this is the best win-now scenario. Tyrod Taylor, Nick Mullens, or Teddy Bridgewater are three great options. And given an extended leash, Mullens or Bridgewater may prove worthy of franchising. To me, if you can get one of those two for a reasonable price, do it. And if you can acquire anyone on this list price-appropriately and remain in a win-now state of mine, hop on the opportunity.
Tua Tagovailoa. Trevor Lawrence. Justin Herbert. Those are three ELITE quarterback prospects all in one draft. Which one? THIS ONE. We've entered this strange territory where seemingly every team aside from the recently abandoned Colts has a quarterback plan. In time for a legendary class of QB prospects, Indy could hide behind the always trusty Our Franchise Quarterback Just Retired at 29 Two Weeks Before The Season excuse and smartly tank the season away in hopes for yet another future great snap-taker.