Few onlookers weren't impressed with Andrew Luck's rookie season, despite riding high expectations following a remarkable career at Stanford and being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. But expectations could be even higher and everybody will be watching to see if a "sophomore slump" is on the horizon for the young phenom. Head coach Chuck Pagano has no fear about a slump however, and not only endorses Luck as a "tireless worker" but says that the offense will look a little different under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
After the Arizona Cardinals hired away former offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians to run their team, the Colts found a familiar face to Luck to run their offense; Hamilton is the former offensive coordinator at Stanford. Pagano told reporters a little bit about how the offense will change in the transition from Arians to Hamilton, a first-time coordinator in the NFL (via the Indy Star's Mike Chappell):
The biggest difference might be a little bit more quick-game, if you will. Get the ball out of Andrew’s hands. Three- and quick five-step drops. Get it into our playmakers’ hands. A little bit more catch-and-run type of things.
Pagano also stresses that the team wants to "be able to run the football" but that they will still take shots downfield. The Colts passed the ball 628 times last season against 440 rushing attempts, 62 of which came from Luck. The rookie quarterback completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 4,374 yards, 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 7.0 yards per attempt, and was named to the AFC roster for the Pro Bowl while leading the Colts from the worst record in the league to a wild card berth with an 11-5 record.
Luck also broke the single-game and full-season records for passing yards by a rookie.
The biggest changes on offense in terms of weapons for Luck will be the addition of Darrius Heyward-Bey from the Raiders following the departure of Donnie Avery, a player that had 60 catches for 781 yards last season for the Colts. Otherwise, the maturation of other young players such as T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and LaVon Brazill, as well as veteran Reggie Wayne entering his 13th season with Indianapolis, could be the benefactors of a faster offense centered around more passes underneath and on quick-drops from the second-year quarterback.
The Colts finished 10th in total offense in 2012, but just 18th in scoring and 22nd in rushing yards. Hamilton was promoted by Stanford head coach David Shaw in 2011 to be the offensive coordinator and helped lead the Cardinal to a 16-2 record in the Pac-12 over the last two seasons, including a 2013 Rose Bowl victory, despite not having Andrew Luck.
Now, he gets to go back to coaching Luck, and hopefully for the Colts, not skipping a beat in getting off to a fast start.