The most intriguing Round of 16 matchup in our 'Be The GM' series is undoubtedly between Andrew Luck and J.J. Watt.
No quarterback has come into the NFL in which there was as much certainty that he would become elite as Luck since Peyton Manning in 1998, while Watt has become a transcendent talent as a 3-4 defensive end at the age of 24 after just two seasons.
Luck’s individual statistics were fairly pedestrian in 2012, but he helped take a flawed Indianapolis Colts' team back to the playoffs with an 11-5 record.
Luck had a passer rating of jut 76.5 while completing 339 of his 627 attempts with 23 touchdowns against 18 interceptions. The Colts’ offensive line was a big liability for Luck and they allowed him to be hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL. The Colts improved their offensive line in the offseason and it is conceivable that Luck’s passer rating jumps nearly 20 points in his second season as Manning’s did in 1999 (71.2 to 90.7).
Bruce Arians had a huge impact in Luck’s rookie season and with his departure to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, the Colts hired Pep Hamilton of Stanford. Luck expects the Colts’ offense to be a hybrid of Arians’ offense and the West Coast that Hamilton ran at Stanford. Luck’s low completion percentage will almost certainly improve moving away from Arians’ system.
Another issue for Luck in his rookie season was the absence of an effective running game. With the threat of the run established, Luck will see defenses not able to cheat as often as they were in 2012.
Luck, similar to Aaron Rodgers, is effective as a runner on occasion. Luck finished his rookie season with 255 yards and five touchdowns on 62 attempts.
The team success came sooner than expected for Luck and the statistics will almost certainly catch up with his physical and mental profile.
Watt had a promising rookie season with 5.5 sacks and 58 tackles, along with a breakout game in the playoffs. But his 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections turned Watt into one of the most dominant defensive players in the entire NFL. In 2012, Watt become the first player to ever have more than 100 grading points from Pro Football Focus. Watt had 83 total pressures on 687 pass rushing snaps while also recording 52 of his 55 tackles against the run.
Watt also achieved numbers that he may never match again while playing the entire season with an injured elbow.
Watt’s pass rushing ability makes life extremely difficult for opposing offenses and the Texans ranked 10th in passer rating against at 80.0.