A year ago, Indianapolis was a dismal place.
Each week, Colts fans tuned in to watch Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins attempt to replace the injured Peyton Manning, and the results were disastrous. The Colts finished with the league's worst record and wound up with the No. 1 overall pick.
Fast forward to 2012, and Indianapolis is buzzing about football again. The Colts are sitting pretty at 8-4 with the once-in-a-generation quarterback prospect Andrew Luck at the helm. Luck is having an outstanding rookie season, Reggie Wayne is experiencing a career resurgence, and the Colts are finding ways to win ball games, despite being without head coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling cancer. The 2012 Colts are truly one of the finest sports stories in recent memory.
The hype surrounding the Colts has caused praise to fall on Luck's shoulders. After all, look at where this team was without him last season. Luck has more than lived up to the hype, showing remarkable pocket awareness, uncanny field vision and the guts to make any throw in the route tree with ease. He has been his team's most valuable player, and some have even argued that he is the league's most valuable player.
Yes, Luck's MVP campaign is real and is picking up steam. Tom Brady? Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers? Forget those guys, Luck is doing all of this with the Colts. Remember how bad they were? That's what those who vote for Luck will point to. That and the memorable performance Luck has put up in his rookie season.
But Luck doesn't belong anywhere near this MVP race. In fact, he has some work to do if he wants to catch Robert Griffin III for Offensive Rookie of the Year. For as impressive as Luck has been, Griffin has been equally so. While Luck's Colts are 8-4, the Redskins are 6-6 and right in the thick of the NFC playoff race. Meanwhile, Luck hasn't performed as well statistically as RG3 has.
So far, Luck is completing 55-percent of his passes for nearly 3,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also rushed for over 200 yards and added five scores on the ground. Griffin has completed 67-percent of his passes to date for just over 2,600 yards passing and 17 touchdowns. He has added over 700 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
The numbers seem similar until you consider the fact that Luck has turned the ball over 21 times, throwing 16 interceptions and losing five fumbles. Griffin has turned the ball over only six times, with four picks and a pair of fumbles lost. How can someone turning the ball over that frequently be considered the league's most valuable player? And when you stack up Luck and Griffin, how exactly does Luck come out on top?
Luck's backers point to the number of deep passes he attempts, which drives down his completion percentage and probably contributes a bit to his high interception totals. I'll buy that, but that doesn't excuse 21 turnovers. Plus, it's not like Griffin has been throwing a bunch of screen passes. He's shown some incredible deep accuracy of his own and managed to make smarter decisions with the football on a consistent basis.
What Luck has done this season is amazing. I won't be surprised if by this time next year he is one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL, and someday I expect him to be the best. But right now, with the numbers he's putting up, he is not the rookie of the year, and he certainly is not the MVP. While there is plenty of time for Luck to catch Griffin for Offensive Rookie of the Year, he's going to need to do something remarkable to warrant MVP consideration.
I get that Luck is surrounded by a young group on offense, but Griffin isn't surrounded by studs, either. Both have rookie running backs, and Griffin has been without his top receiver, Pierre Garcon, for much of the season.
Luck and the Colts are a feel good story right now, and that's 100-percent justified. But that alone does not qualify Luck for postseason awards.
The fact of the matter is we, as football fans, are spoiled right now. Two nearly flawless quarterback prospects have entered the league in the same year. Both appear destined for long, bright futures in the NFL. Luck very well may end up being the better of the two when its all said and done.
The award won't be handed out today, but Griffin has outperformed Luck so far this season, plain and simple. It doesn't mean he's the better prospect or will have the better career, it just means he deserves to be the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year at this point. And that's no indictment on Luck.