INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Luck spent the first three years of his career being one of the NFL's darlings.
Victory after victory. Throw after throw. Comeback after comeback.
But then Luck came crashing down last season.
Interception after interception. Poor throw after poor throw. Injury after injury.
Enter Brian Schottenheimer.
He's the Indianapolis Colts new quarterback's coach responsible for making sure Luck doesn't have a repeat of the 2015 season.
The relationship between Schottenheimer and Luck is still building, but if there's one thing that has been clear so far, it's that they're not going to restrict Luck.
"We're not going to change the way Andrew plays,'' Schottenheimer said. "Andrew's going to play the game. You've got to let Andrew play.''
Schottenheimer has a challenge ahead of him with Luck. The quarterback lost the only position coach he had since entering the NFL in 2012 when Clyde Christensen left to become offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. Also gone is veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Luck is on his third offensive coordinator in Rob Chudzinski.
"With Andrew, you don't have to tell him too much," Chudzinski said. "He's already on it. He's phenomenal in what he does and the plan that he has for himself that he develops for himself to get better."
Schottenheimer, the son of longtime NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, spent last season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Georgia. He was offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams the three seasons prior to that. Schottenheimer also spent six seasons as offensive coordinator of the New York Jets, four seasons as quarterbacks coach of the San Diego Chargers to go with coaching stops in Washington and Kansas City.
Luck has been just as eager to work with Schottenheimer as his new coach has been to work with him.
"I don't think it's a challenge," Schottenheimer said. "I just think it's going to happen. Again, I think it's always good to come in with a guy when he's maybe had a year where he'd like to do some things differently. Again, from the first time we spoke on the phone, he said, 'Hey coach I'm really excited that you're here. I'm ready to get to work.' As a coach that's what you really want to hear."
So much has been emphasized about Luck missing nine games last season due to injuries and on the number of hits he's taken since entering the NFL -- more than 100 -- but what also can't go unnoticed is that the quarterback committed 13 turnovers and only completed 55.3 percent of his pass attempts in just seven games in 2015.
"Nobody wants to be sitting over there watching, especially when you're a great competitor," Schottenheimer said. "I think the turnovers will happen from time to time. There are a few decisions, of course, from last year he looks at and is like, 'Man, I shouldn't have done that,' but I think that's all a part of the process. I think he grew a lot last year just by actually being able to sit back and watch a little bit."
The majority of hits Luck has taken during his career can be attributed to poor offensive line play. The Colts believe they addressed that problem by selecting four offensive linemen in the draft. But Luck has to help out, too. His competitive nature has him believing there isn't a throw he can't make or a defender he can't run by or through. Sliding is more optional than anything for the quarterback. That, in turn, leaves Luck vulnerable to taking some unnecessary hits. He suffered his season-ending lacerated kidney on a scramble play where he was sandwiched by two Denver defenders in Week 9. Owner Jim Irsay said in March that he's open to bringing in a baseball coach or player to talk to Luck about sliding.
"The ones who are great competitors have a harder time (conceding on a play), but again, I think Andrew learned a lot last year and sometimes when you lose something that is so precious to you, you sit back and you're like, 'Wow, in order for this not to happen again, maybe there are some things I need to adjust,'" Schottenheimer said. "He realizes that he wants to be on that field. We certainly need him on that field. You'll see that growth with him this year from a maturity standpoint."