After making a series of apparent scathing criticisms of quarterback Andrew Luck following the Colts’ loss to the Jets on Monday, Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said his remarks were actually meant to praise Luck, reports Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star.
In his postgame press conference Monday, Pagano said the team “can’t turn the damn ball over,” and that Luck needed to take better care of the football. The Colts committed five turnovers on Monday night in the 20–7 defeat and have eight on the season.
“Make great decisions,” Pagano said. “It’s not that hard. It’s not trigonometry.”
He also added that Luck should be more comfortable dealing with an offensive line that was often overwhelmed by the Jets defense because a weak O-line “has been the case for three years now.”
When Pagano was asked on Tuesday to further explain his comments, he said, “I was saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got one hell of a quarterback.’ We have a great player and a great leader there. If anybody handles that kind of adversity any better…
“There’s some great quarterbacks around this league, obviously. But it was more, ‘Hey, we’re lucky that we’ve got Andrew.’ He’s had to deal with [pressure] over the course of the first three years. When we do have some issues and things break down, people are going to put pressure on you. People are going to come after you in different ways. It’s not going to be perfect. But that kid has found a way to extend plays and make plays when everybody thought the down was over.”
In 2014, Luck led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes, but was also hit a league-leading 71 times. Over the past two seasons, he has 28 turnovers, which is also an NFL high. On Monday, he was responsible for four turnovers with three interceptions and a lost fumble.
“It really was a compliment to our quarterback,” Pagano said. “You guys know how many lineups we’ve had because of injuries or this, that and the other. ...The way he’s been able to perform and lead this football team – 11 wins three straight years and playoff wins – that’s what [the statement] was.”
“Thank God we have the guy that we have,” Pagano added.
The 0–2 Colts take on the 1–1 Titans in Week 3.
- Erin Flynn