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Colts Will Need More than Luck to Contend

Peyton Manning can relate to what Andrew Luck is going through in Indy.

Alex Hickey

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When Peyton Manning looks across the sideline this weekend, he will be peering at a neckbearded version of his younger self: a supremely gifted up-and-coming Indianapolis Colts quarterback who has not been provided with a strong enough supporting cast to realistically compete for a Super Bowl title.

Like Manning, Andrew Luck is developing into one of the top quarterbacks of his generation. He has a Manning-like poise on and off the field, not to mention the ability to deliver absurd throws like his on-the-run 36-yard touchdown strike to Donte Moncrief against the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

If the Colts want to win a ring (or multiple rings) with Luck, they will have to put a bit more around him.

Some of the elements Luck is dealing with are surely familiar to Manning.

He’s got a solid, albeit aging, No. 2 receiver in Reggie Wayne to complement a true star on the other side. For Manning that guy was Marvin Harrison; for Luck it is the still-developing T.Y. Hilton.

Like Manning in the post-Edgerrin James era, Luck has very little help from whomever stands next to him in the backfield.

Indianapolis thought it was addressing that weakness when it traded for Trent Richardson last season, but he is turning out to be a bust on a level populated by names like Akili Smith. (A lack of legal trouble keeps Richardson out of the Ryan Leaf/JaMarcus Russell zone).

Now, the former Heisman winner can’t even get onto the field over Zurlon Tipton, who sounds like he is one of the computer’s create-a-players in a Madden franchise mode.

But as was the case for much of Manning’s career, the Colts’ greatest weakness is on the other side of the ball.
When the Colts did win a Super Bowl with Manning in 2006, the defense was anchored by a duo of elite pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

There is nothing elite about Indy’s current defensive unit, which can best be described as perfectly mediocre.

The Colts did a decent job of getting to the quarterback out of their 3-4 base in the regular season, tying the likes of Green Bay and Denver with 41 sacks. The Colts were tied for 21st in interceptions, though. And both stats should be taken with a grain of salt considering six games came against the subpar quarterbacks/offenses of the AFC South.

Andrew Luck is already good enough to win a Super Bowl right now. All he needs is a little more help to get there.

Peyton Manning knows the feeling.

Alex Hickey can vividly recall most significant NFL events going back to Walter Payton's final game in 1987, including the ones that didn't make him cry. Since 2008, his full-time job has been covering college football, specifically McNeese State, for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Free time is spent informing, amusing or annoying you for Football Insiders.

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