BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – There’s nothing easy about playing on the road in the NFL no matter where you are drafted.
That is a lesson that this year’s No. 1 pick Andrew Luck is learning first hand.
Despite a roller coaster start to the season, Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are getting a glimpse of a very bright future.
Luck is the first rookie quarterback in league history to top 1,200 yards and win two games in the first 4 games of his career.
The No. 1 overall pick in the draft needs 1 more 300-yard game to become franchise’s second rookie quarterback to have four 300-yard passing games in season, joining Peyton Manning.
“He so above and beyond trying to be Peyton Manning,” interim coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s got a pretty good legacy starting himself and he doesn’t get caught up in that.”
Luck and the Colts took it on the chin last week in a 35-9 loss to the NY Jets. He threw a pair of interceptions and and lost another fumble – a week after a stirring comeback from a 24-3 halftime deficit to beat Green Bay in their first game since coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia.
Arians doesn’t by into theories of a letdown last week.
“I don’t put any credence into that,” Arians said. “I think we just got our butt kicked.”
Luck and the Colts will be back in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium this week against the Browns who are coming off of their first week of the season.
The game features the top 2 rookie passers in the league – Luck and Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“I’ve always been impressed with Brandon,” Luck said. “I got to watch him live in the Fiesta Bowl and he put on a great performance. I’ve never believed that football was about a quarterback vs. quarterback match up. I’m looking forward to talking with him before and after the game.”
At home, Luck has completed 73 of 132 passes for 899 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. That’s a stark contrast to his struggles on the road where he is 45 of 89 for 589 yards with 1 touchdown, 5 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles in 2 road games.
“We’re trying to find a level of consistently playing well,” Luck said. “I realize that 1 bad play can really turn a game on it’s head and 2 bad plays can put yourself in a really big hole. Finding consistency, focusing on every play, every drive and every part of the game, continuing to learn and trying to get better at it.”
The Colts have outscored opponents 70-69 at home and are an 80-yard touchdown pass away from being a perfect 3-0 at home. On the road, they’ve been blown out twice — 41-21 at Chicago and last week.
“I think we have to get back to business,” Luck said. “We have to make sure that we’re fired up for the game and ready for a dog fight and a very tough Browns defense.
“We have to play with some fire and it lacked a little bit last week. We need to get a little fire back.”
After limiting their first two opponents, Chicago and Minnesota, to a combined total of 209 yards rushing, the Jaguars, Packers and Jets have opened the floodgates averaging 192.7 yards per game.
“We’ve got to do a better job with that or it’s going to continue to happen,” Arians said. “It’s easily correctable. We just have to tackle.”
The Colts have been hit hard defensively with injuries.
Defensive tackle Brandon McKinney tore his ACL in the preseason and went on injured reserve in August, linebacker Pat Angerer broke his right foot in the preseason opener and cornerback Vontae Davis has missed the last 2 games with an ankle injury.
Pro Bowlers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, now converted linebackers, have been on the field together for exactly two series this season. Freeney hurt his ankle in the season-opener and didn’t return until the Jets game. Mathis sprained his left knee late in the Packers game and didn’t even travel to New York.
The Colts have won 5 of the last 6 meetings against the Browns but Arians is expecting a tough afternoon.
“They look like an outstanding young football team that could break out at any time,” Arians said.
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