Should the Indianapolis Colts 'Rest' Andrew Luck?
When the Indianapolis Colts take to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday to face the Minnesota Vikings, they technically have everything to play for. After all, if they win their remaining three games, they increase their chances of making the postseason exponentially from where they stand now. But the Colts just laid down in their biggest game of the year to a division rival, and they could very well be spent. Without winning those next three games, they probably don't make it to the playoffs. So then, do they really have anything to play for?
Quarterback Andrew Luck has been dealing with shoulder and elbow soreness for a good portion of this season, and he spent the second half of last year watching from the sideline while dealing with a lacerated kidney and an abdominal tear. Let's not forget before when he had rib and shoulder injuries earlier in the year as well. He is the second-most sacked (37) quarterback in the NFL this year, and he may hold the top spot if he didn't have to miss the Thanksgiving game due to a concussion. The Colts have also allowed the second-most hits on their quarterback (109) in the league.
The Vikings feature a punishing defense that was on pace statistically with the 1985 Chicago Bears earlier in the season, and though they've leveled out a bit now, they are still a staunch, physical unit that gets after the quarterback quite well. Defensive ends Danielle Hunter (10.5), Everson Griffen (8.0) and Brian Robison (7.0) are combined for more sacks on the season (25.5) than the entire Colts defense has (25.0) at this point.
How do the Colts plan to put a stop to that pass rush? Well, they may have to start an inconsistent left tackle (Anthony Castonzo), a subpar left guard (Jonotthan Harrison), a rookie center (Ryan Kelly), a rookie right guard (Joe Haeg) and a rookie right tackle who has taken 0 career snaps and looked awful in the preseason (Le'Raven Clark). The Colts lost arguably their best offensive lineman last week for the remainder of the season in left guard Jack Mewhort (knee), and right-side starters Denzelle Good (concussion) and Joe Reitz (back) both might be out this week as well.
Do you get where I'm going with this?
It's been one of the most overwhelming topics I have received this week about Sunday's game: Should the Colts hold Luck out?
This wouldn't be the first time the Colts held Luck out of a game with his bigger-picture health in mind. He sat out of the Colts' first preseason game this summer because it was his first official game back from last season's injuries and they didn't trust the Buffalo Bills and blitz-happy head coach Rex Ryan to not pummel Luck.
This year, the Colts are done, even if they don't want to admit it. Why risk Luck's health any further behind a line that can't even protect him when they're healthy?
Of course, the Colts can't do it because then they'll just look like the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Colts would get reamed by the rest of the league and the media for checking out of their season three weeks early. And if they sit Luck against Minnesota, then they might as well sit him in their remaining games against the Oakland Raiders and their pass-rush duo of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, and then the Jacksonville Jaguars, who sacked Luck six times and hit him 14 times back in Week 4.
Sitting Luck would also set a precedent around the league that commissioner Roger Goodell would almost certainly swoop in against. In sports, teams rest players to ease the toll on players' bodies over the course of a long season, or they rest them when they want them fresh for the playoffs, but sitting them down so that they don't get hurt with three whole games left? Uncommon, and while it makes perfect sense, don't count on it happening.
What do you think; should the Colts hold Luck out the rest of the season?
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