Over a five-day span, Andrew Luck threw 121 passes for the Colts for 827 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions. It’s the second most pass attempts ever over a two-game span, behind only the 123 passes that Philip Rivers threw in a pair of games in October 2015.
For Rivers, it didn’t matter. The Chargers lost both games during what turned out to be a 4-12 season. So Rivers may be the only person who really knows Luck’s pain — the Colts’ quarterback’s prolific numbers haven’t mattered either.
Indianapolis also lost both games, including a 38-24 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night that dropped the Colts to 1-4.
If a quarterback is asked to throw more than 50 times in back-to-back weeks, it probably means things aren’t going well. In each of the last two weeks, Luck was asked to do a lot because the Colts fell behind early and were playing catch-up from the jump.
By halftime Thursday, it was 24-3 Patriots and even three passing touchdowns from Luck in the second half wasn’t enough to dig the Colts out of their hole. It was reminiscent of the Colts’ Week 4 loss to the Texans that saw Luck throw three second-half touchdowns to climb from a 28-10 deficit, but lose in overtime.
At this point, it’s difficult not to feel for Luck, who has returned from missing a year with an injury to a team that’s just not giving him much of a chance:
Will a Colts receiver please make a play?
With T.Y. Hilton sidelined with hamstring and chest injuries, tight end Eric Ebron was Luck’s most reliable target against the Patriots. The former Lions first-round pick finished with nine receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns, but even he had a laughably bad drop.
While Ebron bounced back to have a good night, drops became a theme of the night for the Colts. There was Chester Rogers dropping this beautiful pass that should’ve been a big gain:
Andrew Luck traveled all the way back to earth for this shit pic.twitter.com/iGoCyKLmTI— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) October 5, 2018
And Luck’s second interception of the day that was only picked off because Zach Pascal essentially lobbed it into the arms of Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones:
By the end of the night, the Colts had seven drops on Luck’s 59 pass attempts. A week ago, five of Luck’s passes were dropped — making it 12 drops in five days. That’s an incredible amount considering Indianapolis finished the 2017 season with 31 drops and the Giants led the league with 45.
There’s a severe lack of dependable receiving options for Luck, and Hilton can’t return soon enough. But the team’s No. 1 receiver is just one on a ridiculously long list of Colts players dealing with injuries in 2018:
The Colts are running out of healthy players at an alarming rate
Every team deals with injuries, but my goodness the Colts are falling apart at the seams.
They entered Week 5 with nine players on injured reserve, seven ruled out for Thursday due to injury, and six players listed as questionable. They’re so banged up that two of the six in the questionable group were ruled active against the Patriots, but didn’t dress because the Colts don’t even have 46 healthy players to work with.
Word from the Colts: Despite being active, Darius Leonard and Nate Hairston will NOT dress tonight.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 4, 2018
Missing Leonard is especially costly, because the linebacker has played like a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate so far in 2018. Also sidelined is Marlon Mack — the running back who was supposed to take the mantle from Frank Gore, but has been out since Week 2 with foot and hamstring injuries.
Then, somehow, it got worse Thursday:
The Indianapolis defense has been ripped apart worse than the offense by injuries, but that’s still been a negative for Luck. The Patriots cruised up and down the field for 38 points and 6.5 yards per play, forcing the Colts quarterback to keep the pedal to the floor for 60 minutes.
Luck’s health is also a concern. After missing all of 2017 due to a disastrously mismanaged shoulder injury, every throw Luck makes in 2018 is evaluated as proof that his arm is either just fine or a fraction of what it used to be. Throwing 121 passes in live action over a five-day span probably isn’t a good thing.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Colts are through the part of the season that had tough matchups against the Bengals, Eagles, and Patriots. They’ll have 10 days to recover before finishing October with games against the Jets, Bills, and Raiders. Each of those three upcoming opponents have just one win through four weeks, and then once they’re through that slate, the Colts will have a Week 9 bye.
Luck is on pace for 784 pass attempts in 2018 — 57 more than Matthew Stafford’s single-season record — and the few healthy teammates he has aren’t helping him much. They’ll have a chance to bounce back in the next few weeks, but for now, everything is going wrong for Luck and the Colts.