Daily Focus: Just how bad was Andrew Luck's 2015 season?
Editor’s note: Every weekday in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Just how poorly did Andrew Luck play in 2015? Much has been discussed of how Colts quarterback Andrew Luck played last year, but now the signal-caller himself has weighed in, admitting he didn’t play well in 2015, and that he wasn’t performing well even before the injuries that plagued his season occurred. Luck’s self-assessment matches our grades from last season, with his 2015 overall grade of 47.3 ranking 38th among NFL quarterbacks. Luck’s final game of the season—in Week 9 against the Denver Broncos—was his highest-graded game of the year, and the only game where he finished with a positive grade as a passer, highlighting his struggles even before injury.
Throwing the ball downfield was a particular disappointment for Luck, who earned a negative deep-passing grade (takes into account throws 20+ yards downfield), going 16-for-46 for 536 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions on such passes. In the previous three seasons, he had much more success downfield, with strongly-positive grades on those throws between 2012 and 2014. Pressure impacted him more than in previous years, too, with a sharp drop in grade last season compared to his marks between 2012 and 2014. By any important measure, it was the worst season of Luck’s career.
Considering how Luck had played in his pro career so far—grading inside the top-15 quarterbacks in each of his first three seasons—2015 should certainly be viewed as nothing more than a blip at this point. We’ve seen incredible late-game heroics by Luck throughout his career, and his trajectory was very much trending upwards before this past season. He definitely needs to get back to the level he played at before 2015, but based on everything we’ve seen, there’s no reason not to expect him to achieve that.
Reggie Bush reportedly contacted by two teams: It’s been a quiet offseason so far for the former Saints, Lions, and 49ers running back, with little reported interest as Bush attempts to come back from injury. That might be about to change though, with Bush telling SiriusXM NFL Radio that two teams have contacted him.
Bush has had a disappointing pro career, never quite living up to what was a dazzling college career at USC, grading negatively in all but two of the nine seasons since we began grading. Our own Sam Monson tweeted over a year ago that Bush was a more natural fit as a slot receiver than a running back, and while we’re almost certainly too late in his career to see that play out, his receiving numbers certainly indicate that it’s not an outrageous claim.
Since 2007, Bush has forced 70 missed tackles on 400 receptions, compared with 154 on 1,149 carries as a runner. His hands aren’t perfect, dropping 41 of the 441 catchable passes thrown his way in that span, but that mark would have put him 55th among the 85 receivers with at least 48 passes thrown their way last year.
Bush was a fantastic kick and punt returner in college; that ability hasn’t transferred to his NFL career, however, with the exception of 2008 to 2009, where he scored four touchdowns on 51 punt returns. At this point, considering how he has graded throughout his career, it’s not surprising that Bush has struggled to attract much interest this offseason.
Gerald McCoy laughs off claims of not working hard: It’s a natural reaction that we see often when a player has a down year, but there were rumblings that Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy didn’t work hard enough under former head coach Lovie Smith. He laughed off the claims, and on the basis of his 2014 season, it seems highly unlikely that lack of effort was something that limited McCoy.
His 2015 season was disappointing, seeing him finish the year with the lowest single-season grade of his career. He had the eighth-lowest run-defense grade of all defensive tackles last season, after grading positively in that regard in all four of the seasons between 2011 and 2014. Despite that, he still had an impressive year as a pass-rusher, racking up nine sacks, eight hits, and 24 hurries, giving him the 12th-highest pass-rushing productivity mark among defensive tackles with at least 136 pass-rushing snaps in 2015. Our pass-rushing productivity signature stat measures pressure created on a per-snap basis, with weighting towards sacks and hits, giving a clearer indication of production than sacks alone.
There’s also the fact that, if McCoy wasn’t working hard, his 2014 season likely wouldn’t have happened. That year he was our second-highest-graded defensive tackle behind only Aaron Donald, with the highest pass-rushing grade and third-highest pass-rushing productivity mark among all defensive tackles. 2015 was a down year, there’s no doubt about it, but McCoy had his second-highest-graded season in Smith’s first year as Buccaneers head coach, so claims that he didn’t work hard enough under Smith don’t really add up.