An In-Depth Look At The "Struggles" Of Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck's Success

At the surface, there is a legitimate case to be made for Matt Hasselbeck being the best quarterback on the Indianapolis Colts roster this season.

For starters, Hasselbeck sports a 2-0 record to Luck's 1-2 mark. In addition, Matt Hasselbeck has a 77.2 QBR, and is averaging 247.5 yards per game, 1.5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 63.2% completion rate. Luck, so far, has a 30.9 QBR to go along with 251 yards per game, 1.7 touchdowns, 2.3 interceptions, and 56% completion.

The most striking of these statistics are QBR, completion percentage, and turnovers. These three stats. which often have a strong correlation to winning, are all heavily in favor of Hasselbeck.

Let's dig a little deeper into the numbers, though, to see if there is any explanation for the difference in play? Let's look at the opponents that Luck has played and his performance in each game.

GameStarting QBColt QBRColt Comp %Colt INTOpp. Avg QBROpp. Avg. Comp %Opp. Avg INT per game
Wk 1 v. BUFAndrew Luck38.753.1242.358.51.4
Wk 2 v. NYJAndrew Luck20.056.8327.751.11.2
Wk 3 v. TENAndrew Luck37.160.0252.255.21
Wk 4 v. JACMatt Hasselbeck63.763.8060.067.8.2
Wk 5 v. HOUMatt Hasselbeck92.162.1060.958.0.4

*denotes better than opponent average

When looking at how Luck and Hasselbeck performed in their individual games, Hasselbeck still comes out ahead, especially following an extremely impressive showing on the road against Houston in Week 5.

Yet, while Hasselbeck looks good, it does provide a bit of context as to why Luck may have struggled: Luck has faced more impressive teams defensively. One takeaway is that, while not great, Luck has not been very far from average. This isn't something to write home about for someone who was considered a top five quarterback entering this year, but it should be enough to keep people from hitting the panic button.

These numbers also start to make even more sense when you look at how the pass blocking of the Colts has fared over the weeks.

WeekStarting QBPro Football Focus Pass Blocking Grade
Wk 1Andrew Luck-0.5
Wk 2Andrew Luck-3.1
Wk 3Andrew Luck-11.1
Wk 4Matt Hasselbeck5.5
Wk 5Matt Hasselbeck0.6

Pro Football Focus grades each play of a football game based on the impact that players had on the game. Their grades support the conclusion that Andrew Luck has had some pretty bad protection these first few games, especially in comparison to Hasselbeck. With the exception of the game against the Tennessee Titans, it hasn't been terrible, but it's been below average. Hasselbeck has had solid to good protection in both of his two starts.

So what does this all mean? It means that we need to be patient with Andrew Luck. Three games is by no means a good sample size and a 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck is probably not the savior of the Colts this season.

Luck has faced some good defenses, hasn't gotten much help from his protection and the result has been average play. Hasselbeck surely has played well these last few weeks, but some of that credit goes to those playing around him and who he's playing against.

The Colts' next four opponents are the Patriots, Saints, Panthers, and Broncos. With Andrew Luck healthy, it will be a good test to see if he is able to produce against some other defenses that have had success this year.

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