"When (Luck) wants something done a certain way, he's going to come to you to tell you how he wants it done," Johnson said Tuesday. "I think that's what makes him great."
Don't mistake Luck's assertiveness for arrogance. And don't confuse his confidence with disrespect. As Luck made clear earlier Tuesday, he is humbled to be throwing passes to a highly accomplished receiver he grew up watching.
Still, just because the Colts' offense is suddenly stocked with veteran studs like Johnson, running back Frank Gore and guard Todd Herremans, this firmly remains Luck's group. And a trip to the Super Bowl -- the obvious goal in Indianapolis, no matter whom you ask -- will rely heavily on Luck's success.
Luck has a sharp sense of self-awareness, bolstered by his own offseason self-evaluation, and this might be the first year when we can truly look at him as a legitimate veteran. No longer a rookie, nor the NFL's version of a budding teenager, Luck has reached a point where his time is very much in the now. Based on his talk with Johnson, he seems to know it.
That was the takeaway at the outset of mandatory minicamp, which has provided the most official look at a roster built with the clear purpose of surpassing the New England Patriots -- as well as every other AFC team -- and representing the conference in Super Bowl 50. Even last year, when the Colts went to the AFC Championship Game, it felt like this team had room to grow around Luck.
"It's about winning," Gore said.
With 12 players on their roster over 30, the Colts will be one of the league's oldest groups in 2015. The additions of Gore, Johnson and Herremans -- as well as 32-year-old Trent Cole on the defensive side of the ball -- only furthered the impression that Indianapolis is suddenly long in the tooth. But that seems overstated when you analyze the actual makeup of this group.
The Colts want to win right now, but it's not like this offense is built for offseason self-destruction if they don't. The unit is instead constructed with young, rising talent (in addition to Luck, of course, check out wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett) supplemented with savvy veterans. With Indy entering Year 3 under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the Colts should now have a good grasp of the system, too, allowing everyone to be more assertive in 2015.
But those previously mentioned names -- the stars, young and old -- will be the most fun to watch. Let's start with Luck. It's hard to be too upset with any quarterback who throws 40 touchdown passes in a season. But Luck said this week that he still knows what his priority must be as he looks to improve in 2015. Along with those 40 scoring strikes, he also threw 16 interceptions, and he knows he must improve that ratio.
In order to improve, Luck has thoroughly investigated last season's interceptions, so he can find out how they happened. Some were the result of tipped passes, but predominantly, Luck said, they stemmed from bad decisions (mental) or bad throws (physical). He is focused on improving both areas. The easiest way to fix those issues? Avoid forcing passes.
So if the Colts can get improved play from Luck, which is certainly a reasonable scenario, the question becomes whether Johnson and Gore have enough left in the tank to propel their respective units into a new tier of success.
Luck says both players seem more than capable, as evidenced by their approach during practice. Luck noted that Gore, specifically, has displayed an ability to read the defense in a manner the QB never knew possible in his first three pro seasons. He said Gore will often read defenders' body language -- including the level of tilt in the safety's body -- to decide how to attack.
"He puts himself in position to succeed, and I'm sure glad he's here with us," Luck said.
"I've never seen a six-man front," Gore said. "With the weapons we have, and with Andrew Luck, one of the top QBs in the league, I think it should be a light box. Hopefully, this year, it happens. And hopefully, I can take advantage of it."
All high hopes, no doubt, in Indianapolis. All largely justified by the year-to-year progress the offense is making with Luck at quarterback.
And it seems his teammates are ready for the ride.
"I think we can accomplish a lot," Johnson said. "I think we have a lot of weapons here. We have a lot of guys who can make plays. I don't think you can key on one guy. But we have to put in the work. It looks good on paper.
"But we need to make sure it goes down on Sundays."