NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Andrew Luck (R) from Stanford holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Luck was selected #1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Colts, as most know, are entering Sunday's matchup against the Bears as big underdogs. The Bears are heavily favored, and, at least on paper, the Bears hold most of the advantages over the rebuilding Colts. However, it has been brought up that first overall pick Andrew Luck is no ordinary rookie QB and that he could possibly blow up the Bears secondary for a big game on Sunday and possibly even upset the them.
I do believe it's possible because in the NFL, any team can win any given week, even the team with the worst record in the league last year. It's sometimes said the difference between the best and worst teams in the league are only one or two players sometimes (Look no further than the 2010 Colts v. 2011 squad). So I want to explore, how have recent and not-so-recent first-overall QB hype machines fared in their first NFL games?So with some help from pro-football-reference.com, I have looked up the week one stats for the last three number one overall picks, which were QBs; Cam Newton (2011), Sam Bradford (2010) and Matthew Stafford (2009) and then I went back to 2008 and got the stats for third-overall pick Matt Ryan (if you recall, Jake Long and Chris Long were chosen ahead of him).
I didn't go back any farther because 1) most of the next group is a lot of "busts;" JaMarcus Russell (Note do NOT name my kid JaMarcus, suck just follows that name), Alex Smith, Vince Young/Matt Leinhart and 2) most of the current group is not considered "busts" 3) most of those guys didn't become week one starters like the group I chose.
For comparisons sake, I went back even further though and pulled stats for the great Peyton Manning and John Elway because I am sure we all heard "Andrew Luck is the best QB prospect since Manning/Elway."
So then, how did all these guys fair in their first starts, specifically in week 1?
Well combined they threw for 5 TDs and 11 INTs in week one, two hit over 200 yards passing (Bradford and Stafford), one hit 300 yards (Manning) and one hit 400 (Newton). Their teams went 2-4 in those contests.
Lets look at the individual stat lines then shall we;
Cam Newton: 24/37 (64.9% completion) 422 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT and a 110.4 rating plus he rushed for another TD. Carolina lost 28-21 to Arizona.
Sam Bradford: 32/55 (58.2%) 253 yards 1 TD, 3 INTs 53.1 rating; St. Louis lost 17-13 to Arizona.
Matthew Stafford: 16/37 (43.2%) 205 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs 27.4 rating and a rushing TD in a 45-27 loss to New Orleans.
Matt Ryan: 9/13 (69.2%) 161 yards 1 TD 0 INTs, 137.0 rating in a 34-21 win over Detroit.
Peyton Manning: 21/37 (56.8%) 302 yards 1 TD 3 INTs 58.6 rating in a 24-15 loss to Miami.
John Elway: 1/8 (12.5%) 14 yards, 0 TD 1 INT 0.0 rating in a 14-10 win over Pittsburgh.
All right, so history suggests that Andrew Luck will throw at least one pick, unless they completely don't let him try to win it (a la Matt Ryan). Ryan's win, while not a fluke, should be noted to have come against a Lions team on their way to 0-16 and had a 220 yard performance from Michael Turner.
Elway was benched for veteran QB Steve DeBerg, who threw a TD and the team again benefited from a good running attack as Sammy Winder ran for 96 yards and a TD.
Newton and Bradford lost to not-very-good Arizona teams who were 5-11 in 2010 and 8-8 last season. Stafford played against the New Orleans team that went on to win the Super Bowl in 2009 and Manning faced a Miami squad that finished 10-6 in 1998 and won a playoff game in Marino's second to last season. Pittsburgh was 10-6 in 1983.
So while it seems likely that Luck will be hard-pressed for a win Sunday, he could put up decent passing yardage as well as some picks. Another thing to remember is that the supporting cast for a number one pick isn't going to be very good either. Elway and Ryan played for teams that weren't the worst team in football the previous season.
History is on the Bears' side, but none of us will know until the game ends Sunday what Luck will look like as a starting NFL QB.