ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay realizes not many people are talking about his team when it comes to expectations this season.
A lot of attention in the AFC South has been centered on two other teams -- Jacksonville and Houston -- because of the offseason moves they made to hopefully improve their roster. But Irsay is pretty confident in what his team can do because of a certain returning player on his roster.
"Andrew [Luck] is feeling really healthy," he said. “He feels great and that makes me feel great because, yeah, we’re under the radar, but we have Andrew Luck.”
A healthy Luck gives the Colts a chance to win. A healthy Luck is something the Colts didn’t have last season, and they paid the price for it.
He missed nine games with injuries. In turn, the Colts finished with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
So, despite an inconsistent defense, coach Chuck Pagano's lingering contract status and internal bumpiness between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, Irsay looks at the loss of Luck as the focal point of their issues last season.
"Last year, it wasn't that there was some distraction or Chuck's lame-duck status or Ryan and Chuck's relationship was difficult, so that made us struggle," Irsay said. "Really, it was more of a year where our franchise quarterback got hurt. If that doesn't happen, who knows what kind of year we would have had?"
Luck is not only healthy, but he’s also $140 million richer. His owner has high expectations for his quarterback despite Luck coming off the worst season of his career, where he had 15 touchdowns, 13 turnovers and only completed 55.3 percent of his pass attempts.
"Every year that Andrew is in the discussion about being the MVP of the league type of guy, (then) we are having a great year," Irsay said. "It's a quarterback-driven league. There's no question about it. We want to do everything we can to get him in the position to play great and be in that three or four guys in the league that's talked about for the MVP. That's the way it should be every year. He's up to the challenge. He knows the pressures that come with being Andrew Luck."