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Andrew Luck Benefits From Double Standard: NFL Unfiltered Week 7

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By definition, double standards are unfair. They speak to our collective need to praise those we like, while criticizing those we don’t.  

And in the National Football League, where too often perception isn’t reality, many spend their entire careers without nary a disparaging word from the national media, even when warranted.  Andrew Luck photo: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

To wit, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has talent, seems to care about the game, and by all accounts, works at his craft. But he is clearly struggling in this, his fourth full season as an NFL starter, and he isn’t receiving the kind of specific, measured analysis given to other quarterbacks.

It makes sense. After all, Luck looks the part. Listed at 6’3”, 235 lbs., a good athlete, capable of making every necessary NFL throw, and carrying the more conventional complexion, everything about Luck says prototype.  And we love prototypes.

But sometimes prototypes malfunction, and if you are an expert in the field, it behooves you to explain why.  

Where is NFL Films’ Greg Cosell to share his views on Luck’s problems since by his own admission, all he does is “watch the tape?”  Take a listen to the first few minutes of his recent interview on The Dan Dakich Show on 1070 the Fan.  Dakich audaciously questions Luck’s arm strength and poor decisions, as anyone with a pair of eyes should. On the other hand, Cosell sounds annoyed at the mere suggestion that Luck isn’t one of the league’s best and makes a point to call him a “high level” quarterback.  

Cosell then spews the lazy narrative on the depth of the Colts’ roster, and says Luck is the reason for their recent success.  However, he never mentions Luck’s struggles this season, despite teammates comparable to those in his first three years.  

Cosell, you should know, is the same guy, who never hesitates to explain Cam Newton’s foibles, is quick to tell you why Colin Kaepernick is maddeningly inconsistent, and said Robert Griffin III can’t play.  

Lest you think this is about those guys, let me assure you, it isn’t.  While Cosell’s assessment of all three players is sometimes unfair, it is mostly correct.  Why not share Luck’s flaws, as well?  Why is FOX Sports talking head Colin Cowherd and so many like him convinced it’s insanity to question Luck at all?  That is the double standard Luck enjoys.  

Clearly, the Colts’ front office, led by general manager Ryan Grigson, failed to build around Luck. And it’s beginning to look like head coach Chuck Pagano is more Rich Kotite than Bill Walsh. But it is equally clear: Luck is not playing well.

Furthermore, while the Colts are 34-19 in Luck’s 53 starts, they are only 17-17 in games outside their own division. Does that mean Luck is superior compared to the rest of the AFC South’s dreck, and just another good player among the rest of the league?  Or, is the Colts’ talent deficit only an issue outside their division?

Simply put, you cannot give Luck all the praise for three straight 11-5 playoff seasons, and none of the criticism for this year’s poor start, or the Colts cumulative .500 record against the 28 teams outside their division. Unless of course, you think the Colts are drastically less talented today than they were the last three seasons.  

Obviously, Luck is a good player. But just as experts praise him for how he sees the field, manipulates defenses with his eyes and climbs the pocket to deftly avoid pressure, they ought to make it clear when he unnecessarily hurries a throw, takes an avoidable sack and misses an open pass-catcher.  

Very few players rise to a level beyond reproach and normally, that comes after several years of stellar play. Quite frankly, Andrew Luck hasn’t earned that.  

Just don’t expect those in his media fan club to say otherwise.   

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 7

-Being the parents or loved ones of the woman Dallas’ Greg Hardy is dating, must involve a lot of sleepless nights. That dude is dangerous.

-Publically, Chip Kelly has no interest in the USC job.  Privately, his agent ought to tell Pat Haden that $8 million dollars is enough to get it done.

-Seems St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has another good running back in rookie Todd Gurley.  Let the praise of Fisher begin, while completely ignoring an entire decade of mediocrity.    

-Essentially, two players make the Oakland Raiders relevant and watchable: quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper.  Maybe that’s why so many incorrectly refer to the NFL as a passing league.  

-Carolina Panthers wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn, Jr. makes his living avoiding contact.  His reluctance to score on that end around Sunday night is a perfect example.  Makes you wonder if he gets any grief in the locker room because of it.  

-Carolina’s defense is playing well again and Jonathan Stewart is channeling his inner Marshawn Lynch. But very quietly, Newton is in complete control of their offense.  He has grown as a field general and deserves a heap of praise for his efforts.  

-Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins’ psyche seems a little too fragile for the NFL.  Why else would he act so defiantly after a mid-season victory at home, against one of the league’s worst franchises?  

-Strange anecdote of the week: Of the eight teams now last in their respective divisions, at least six think they’re set at quarterback for 2016.  The only two on shaky ground: Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor and San Francisco’s Kaepernick.  

-Count Miami’s Ryan Tannehill as another quarterback who benefits from a media double standard.  He has hurt the Dolphins his entire career, but has done so without growing concerns about his feel for the game, reaction to pressure in the pocket or fundamentals.  

-As far as defensive players go, Miami’s Ndamukong Suh and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson are good players, but the media portrays them like Warren Sapp and Deion Sanders.  

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Andrew Luck photo: sportsillustrated.cnn.com