The Luck-Manning comparisons will always be there until the end of time, that goes without saying.
However, we are in year three of the Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts and Colts fans found the healing process of losing Manning to be quickly healed due to the heroics of Luck.
With 4th quarter game winning drives left and right coupled with back to back playoff appearances, the Colts have already been put back into the elite class of the AFC..
I believe the Colts are Super Bowl contenders based on the strong roster they have, as well as having a franchise game changing quarterback in Luck.
But what about Peyton? How does his first two seasons compare to Luck’s?
Year One Peyton Manning
326/575, 56.7% completion, 3,739 yards, 6.50 average, 26 touchdowns, 28 interceptions
For Manning, he experienced massive growing pains in his first year as he threw two more interceptions than touchdowns. Despite having Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and inevitable Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, the Colts offense was below average ranking 19th overall in 1998. The Colts defense that season was ranked 29th surrendering over 400 points that season.
Manning was considered at the time to be the best quarterback prospect since John Elway yet was still far away the Peyton we all know now. He got drafted into a bad situation and his play suffered because of it.
Manning though did set the rookie passing records for yardage as well as touchdowns that would be broken by Can Newton then Andrew Luck and have his touchdown record tied by Russell Wilson.
Year One Andrew Luck
339/627, 54.1% completion, 4,374 yards, 6.98 average, 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions
With Peyton being released and the Colts looking into the future, the Colts sought after the best prospect since John Elway in Andrew Luck. In Lucks case, he got left with a wasteland of players that were either spot fillers or the remnants of the Peyton era like Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne.
The Colts were in the midst of a rebuilding of sorts as many believed it would take a few years to become relevant back in the playoff scene especially with a brand new team, coach, and general manager.
This was beyond the case as the Colts earned 11 wins and a trip to the playoffs in their first year under this new look. The Colts toppled three playoff teams such as the Vikings, Texans, and the Super Bowl favorite Packers in a game for the ages. Luck also had seven 4th quarter comebacks/game wining drives as well. Luck would also shatter Can Newton’s single season passing yards for a rookie as well as most yards for a rookie passing in a game.
Year Two Andrew Luck
343/570, 60.2% completion, 3,822 yards, 6.71 average, 23 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
Luck would have a repeat performance regarding his touchdowns but he would cut his interceptions in half thus tying him for a franchise low nine interceptions.
The loss of Reggie Wayne though was critical in the stat padding Luck had the second half of the season. There were games where the Colts offense would be just stagnant as the receiving core was just young and inexperienced.
The Colts were also hit with the injury bug as Dwayne Allen, Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Thomas would too be lost to injury.
The Luck 4th quarter magic was apparent as well as he had four comebacks. No comeback would be bigger than the one in the playoffs against the Chiefs.
As we enter the third year, Luck will have a healthy offense coupled with the addition of Hakeem Nicks to throw the ball to. The Colts also have the easiest schedule on paper and if the Colts look to get back to the playoffs, they have to play sixty minutes every game and not dig themselves out of a hole like they did last year.
Luck has surpassed Peyton as of right now not only based on stats but overall as well. Luck already has the intangibles Peyton had in his later years in Indianapolis and is mobile to boot. Luck will only get better.
With a healthy offense, Luck should exceed 4,000 yards again and may very well hit the 30 touchdown mark for the season. With every year, the Colts team he plays for gets better on paper thus increasing the chances for the Colts to get back to the Super Bowl.