The Colts have enjoyed one of the more impressive turnarounds in the NFL this season after just two wins during the 2011 campaign. A multitude of factors have played into the resurgence, but near the top has been the play of quarterback Andrew Luck, the first pick in last April's draft.
On a conference call with local media on Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he didn't spend lot of time studying Luck before the draft because the team wasn't planning to take a quarterback in the first round (as well as the fact that Luck would be long gone by the time the team made its first selection). Nonetheless, some of what Belichick saw on Luck's college film has already shown up during his young NFL career.
"I think the things that we knew about him coming out have certainly played out this season," Belichick said. "Big kid, good arm, can make all the throws, very athletic, good movement in the pocket, handles the offense well. They do a lot of checking and changing plays and you can see him handling the offensive team in those situations, as well as end of the game-type situations where he's got to make good situational plays and decisions. He's done a good job in all of those things."
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who is charged with devising a game plan to stop Luck, has been impressed as well.
"Indianapolis offensively is doing a phenomenal job. You can really tell Andrew Luck is grasping what they're trying to do and obviously coach (Bruce) Arians is doing a great job of getting him in the right situations," Patricia said. "They have some excellent players around him. Obviously Reggie Wayne is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He has progressed throughout the year and I would say he's playing at a very high level right now from an offensive standpoint."
Patricia also suggested that Luck isn't playing like a rookie.
"I certainly understand that he has the title of a rookie, but we're well into the season and he's played quite a few games in the NFL," he continued. "He's doing a good job of really handling that offense and running that offense and putting them in good situations to win football games. I think that's what you want to get out of your quarterback.
And while he won't spend time this week preparing to face Luck, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has caught some of Luck's film during his preparation for other games, and the 23-year old Stanford graduate has made a favorable impression.
"We've had a chance I think to have the Indianapolis offense in maybe one or two breakdowns this year, and he certainly has done a nice job of adapting to the pro game, and coach (Bruce) Arians has done a great job of putting him in position to be successful," McDaniels said of Luck. "And I think he deserves a lot of credit, I know that's not an easy thing to do with a rookie quarterback or as a rookie quarterback in order to get in there and handle all the different things that you see on a weekly basis in the NFL and be productive and win games.
"I think the most important thing is he's really handled some tough, difficult situations, close games, and played really big in those situations and helped his team to victory," McDaniels continued. "I've got a ton of respect for him."