Daily Focus: Just how bad was Andrew Luck’s 2015 season?

Analyst Gordon McGuinness takes a look at Andrew Luck's 2015 performance, Reggie Bush's career thus far, and more.

| 4 months ago
(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

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.

Luck career grades

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.

McCoy career grades

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Colts as a team didn’t play that well last season and I think part of the reason was the coaching staff wasn’t always on the same page. The Colts have addressed that issue during the off season but it may take time for the new staff to jell. As the article related to Aaron Rodgers pointed out, confidence is a huge factor for QBs and without it they will struggle. Luck’s confidence took a hit last season but he has the skill to rebound too.

    • 24AHAD

      Gel* lol

  • Caleb Filiault

    i think the reason why luck didnt play well was his scheme. he was being asked to do what eli manning was in 2013, and both qbs obviously struggled. luck also never looked like he was completely healthy this year. i think if the colts use a similar scheme for luck as they did for hasselbeck, luck should continue to be a good qb.

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    • eYeDEF

      Scheme really had nothing to do with it. He trying to play with a shoulder injury.

      • Caleb Filiault

        he was playing injured, but the scheme he was put in made it almost impossible for him to play well. his o-line is one of the worst in the league, and to try to help with that, his coaching staff calls for more players to help block. as a result, luck only has about 3 receivers to throw to, and the defense can easily double team all of them. luck is then forced to either take a sack because he never has any protection, or make an impossible throw.

        • eYeDEF

          He’s always had crappy offensive lines though. This was the first time he played that poorly.

          • Caleb Filiault

            he wasnt healthy and he didnt even play worse than he did before, it’s just his scheme made it impossible for him to have good numbers because he was always under pressure and being forced to make impossible throws into double coverage with no running game.

  • AJ

    To this day, 10 years after being drafted, Reggie Bush’s college career has bought him way more chances to prove himself than he deserves. If not for his college career and draft position, he would have been out of the league years ago.

    • crosseyedlemon

      It’s ridiculous to think a player can trade on his college career for 10 years in the pros. Whether your a player or coach, the NFL is still a “what have you done for us lately?” league. Bush may have never fulfilled expectations coming out of college but he has been productive enough in niche roles with various teams and that is why he has survived this long.