Clearly limited over the first three games, it’s becoming obvious Andrew Luck will never get all his arm strength back.
Amid fits and starts after shoulder surgery in January of 2017, Andrew Luck missed all of last season. Slow progress continued as the calendar flipped to 2018, but it was deemed intentional in some capacity and Luck was ready to go for Week 1.
Even with clear indications he wasn’t going to fully unleash the ball downfield, Luck went 39-for-53 for 319 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener. Some drop-off came in Week 2 against the Redskins, but Luck still completed just over two-thirds of his passes in a 21-9 Colts’ win.
Weather was a factor in Philadelphia on Sunday, but Luck set a single-game career-low by averaging 4.1 yards per attempt. The Colts had a Hail Mary attempt from their own 38-yard line in the final seconds of the game, at which point backup Jacoby Brissett entered the game.
That clearly suggests Luck doesn’t have the arm strength to throw ball 65-70 yards in the air. Head coach Frank Reich said exactly that after the game.
For his part, Luck said he didn’t have a problem with Brissett entering the game for the Hail Mary.
"I don’t know,” Luck said. “I was never in a situation to go out there and do it. I think in this situation, to be honest, I don’t know if I could go out there and do it to run around and scramble, step foot in the ground, and try to chuck it."
The Colts have clearly focused on the short passing game through three games this season. Via NextGen Stats, Luck has posted the league’s second-lowest intended air yards per pass so far (5.5, minimum 23 pass attempts on the season). His traditional yards per attempt has gone down each game, from 6.0 in Week 1, to 5.8 in Week 2 and all the way down to the 4.1 on Sunday.
If a missed season and slow progress to even throwing a regulation-size NFL football after shoulder surgery wasn’t enough to invite skepticism, a few things are now clear. Luck’s shoulder is not all the way back, it may never be all the way back and his arm strength is officially sapped until there are signs otherwise.