Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich replaced Andrew Luck with Jacoby Brissett for the final heave of Sunday's loss in Philadelphia. The move spurred a trove of questions about Luck's ability to throw the ball deep coming off shoulder surgery.
Both Luck and Reich dismissed the decision after the game, with the quarterback conceding Brissett has a stronger arm. On Monday, Reich reiterated that he's not concerned about Luck's ability to throw downfield or the oomph on his passes.
"What I've seen is he makes all the throws," Reich said, via the Indy Star. "There's been plenty of throws down the field, in my mind ... I've seen a guy who is extremely accurate. I have no concerns about velocity."
While the coach dismissed worries about Luck's arm, the display on the field Sunday showed a quarterback who underthrew a few deep balls, fluttered a long sideline pass, and rarely targeted receivers deep. The Colts' best deep pass play was an underthrown deep shot to T.Y. Hilton that created pass interference.
Through three games, Luck owns a 5.5 air yards per pass average, dead last among quarterbacks with at least 14 attempts, per Next Gen Stats. The league average is 8.0. Luck sits behind the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Derek Carr, Sam Bradford, Blake Bortles and Eli Manning in terms of air yards per pass.
The lack of field-stretching element has changed Hilton's usage.
"Andrew's playing good football," Reich said. "He made a lot of plays in this game to give us a chance to win. I know he's like all of us, like the head coach and play-caller, when you don't win you never feel like you're good enough. We all wanna be better than we were.
"The quarterback's always going to get more credit when you win and blame when you lose."
Luck has looked good at times, but there are stretches when the ball doesn't seem to have the pop out of his hand that we were used to seeing.
Whether the Colts' offense is a short-pass scheme by design to protect Luck and a questionable offensive line, or because the QB still isn't all the way back from injury is a question Indy fans will surely ask moving forward.