Much of 2017's struggles in Indianapolis can be traced back to one massive void under center.
While Jacoby Brissett has performed admirably, he's no Andrew Luck. The result of Luck's season-long absence (and a defense that lost its best player to injury and is largely filled with spare parts otherwise) has the Colts at 3-10 entering Thursday night's matchup against the 4-9 Denver Broncos. Both teams will look back on this season as a campaign of great disappointment, but one has reason for optimism entering 2018.
Colts owner Jim Irsay gave an update on Luck's status to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport this week during Winter League Meeting, and all signs are pointing toward the franchise quarterback's return next season.
"He's doing great," Irsay told Rapoport. "He's doing well. [We're] disappointed obviously it's taken as long as it's taken. You know, medicine and the way it goes. But there hasn't been any unusual setback. We didn't find out anything ominous, something we didn't know about or anything like that. It's just taken time for him to go through his whole aspect of rehabbing and progressing and working through the soreness."
Irsay, noted proponent of "the four-inch field between your ears," has openly wondered how much of Luck's injury was mental. Luck has since gone overseas for treatment, which should tell the public all they need to know about the seriousness of his nagging shoulder ailment.
Fortunately, it sounds as though the worst is in the rearview mirror for the quarterback and his ever-valuable arm.
"He's still in Europe but he's coming home very shortly," Irsay told Rapoport. "No additional surgery at this point planned."
Indianapolis will soldier through the final three weeks of the season and a potential change at head coach, but will be able to rest easy knowing Luck remains on his path back to the field. His value to the franchise is unquestioned, and if the Colts spend some of their offseason energy on protecting their quarterback -- Indianapolis ranks dead last in the NFL with 52 sacks surrendered, eight more than the next closest team -- a significant rebound could be in the cards in 2018.