The Indianapolis Colts' offensive line is one the most maligned groups in the NFL for good reason. They have given up an NFL-high 20 sacks, 42 quarterback hits and have opened few holes for a ground game that has gone 55 games without a 100-yard rusher.
On Wednesday, quarterback Andrew Luck took some blame for all those sacks.
"You are going to have a clock in your head regardless of how much you are getting hit or not hit or sacked or whatever that is," Luck said, via ESPN.com. "Again, I have said this before, I don't think the sacks are necessarily indicative of how well our offensive line is playing. You can probably blame me for holding the ball too long. It is that clock developing in the game."
It is possible that everyone is to blame for the sack struggles.
The Colts' offensive line is one of the worst in the league, regularly getting plowed over by defenders and missing assignments.
Per ESPN stats, Luck is averaging 2.81 seconds to attempt a pass. The league average is 2.48 seconds. In 2014, when Luck was at his best, he averaged 2.68 seconds per throw -- the league average was 2.53. That 0.13-second difference is nothing in normal life but can make a difference in the pocket.
Also playing into the sack totals are the play calls. With T.Y. Hilton the primary receiver, the Colts try to hit the big play more than most offenses -- Donte Moncrief's injury plays a factor, as Luck lost his biggest boundary weapon. Luck has thrown seven of his 10 touchdowns this season while taking longer than the league average to get rid of the ball. Fifteen of his 20 sacks came when holding the ball longer than the average, per ESPN.
"It's a double-edged sword like most things in professional sports," Luck said. "We know as an offense that big plays are great but also first downs and touchdowns are great. Everything positive is great for an offense. It's finding the right balance and I think we are still working at getting that."
As they try to find the right balance, Luck continues to get pounded.
The quarterback might be trying to take more blame than he's due. Luck is the only thing keeping the Colts from bottoming out. He's consistently put up points and led game-winning drives, bailing out failures by a terrible defense. He makes more accurate throws while stepping into hits than any other quarterback.
This Sunday against the Houston Texans, Luck faces a stiff test in Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. If Indy wins, they could sit atop the division at 3-3. Given the team struggles and poor roster makeup, the Colts have only Luck to thank for a chance to save the season.