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Peter King on M&M: Colts QB Andrew Luck ‘not been averse to making some huge mistakes’

01.10.14 at 1:31 pm ET
By
Peter King

Peter King

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the NFL playoffs and other league news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Andrew Luck is drawing high praise as he leads the Colts into Foxboro for a divisional-round game Saturday night.

“I think most people look at him right now and think that he’s on his way to having a top-10, 20 quarterback career,” King said. “There’s a couple of reasons. He’s so precocious about the game, he knows so much about the game. His dad raised him in the game, because obviously his dad was a pro quarterback. I think he also learned the other side of the game also. He learned the team side, he learned you’re nothing without your teammates, and the media part of it doesn’t matter. ‘€¦ It’s just not in his pedigree right now to set himself apart from the crowd. So I think more than anything, Andrew Luck gets it.”

However, King said he isn’t convinced Luck will add to his growing legend Saturday.

“When you look back at his career, why I’m skeptical he’ll play one of his great games is, first of all, he’s gotten hit quite a bit this season, so I think the Patriots are probably going to be able to pressure him,” King said. “And secondly, I think if you take away T.Y. Hilton you’ll be able to do some good things against their passing game.

“He’s not been averse to making some huge mistakes. Look at the first half last week, where he was vastly outplayed by Alex Smith, then early in the third quarter. So, to me, I kind of look at him right now and just say I think he can be great any week. But I also think he’s going to still make mistakes ’cause he’s still learning the game.”

King said that this matchup could turn into a battle of the ground games.

“Everybody has sort of said, ‘If Andrew Luck can’t do it then they’re in huge trouble.’ But just look at Donald Brown — to me, anyway — in the last few weeks. He hasn’t run it a lot, but he’s run it very productively — high yards per rush; he’s averaged over five [5.3] for the year,” King said. “If I’m [offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton and the Colts, I’m saying, look, I want Donald Brown and Trent Richardson to have very prominent roles in this game plan. In part because we’d like to keep it away from Tom Brady. And also in part because this team this year, the Patriots are vulnerable against the run. They’ve shown it week after week. They’re surrendering 4 1/2 a carry.

“And you understand because of the marquee value of quarterbacks, they’re making it out as an Andrew Luck-Tom Brady game. And it well could be. But I think it could also be a Donald Brown-Shane Vereen game as well. Or LaGarrette Blount.”

King predicted last week that Julian Edelman would have a big postseason, and he isn’t wavering from that prediction.

Said King: “I don’t know if you’re going to be able to cover Julian Edelman the way that Chuck Pagano wants to cover him for a very simple reason. I think for the last month of the season you have seen teams really try different things to try to cover Julian Edelman, to devote a lot of time and energy and people to covering Julian Edelman.

“But if you’re Tom Brady — I was looking at this this week: The last six weeks of the season he has targeted Julian Edelman at least nine times every game. And if you look at what has happened to him the last six weeks, if you sort of draw a line of demarcation before that Denver game because that was the 10-game point of this season for the Patriots, and then you look at that and you basically say from that point on, the last six games of the season, I think I’m right in saying this: He caught 53 balls, the last six weeks. So again, you’re catching nine balls a game and teams out there are devoting time, energy, people to try to cover you. And two out of every three times Tom Brady looks at you he’s completing a pass.

“I’m basically saying I have a lot of respect for Chuck Pagano. I think he’s a really, really good coach. And I think strategically they’re a good defense. But I think also I like Mike Pettine in Buffalo, I like Dean Pees in Baltimore, I like Kevin Coyle in Miami; the last three weeks [Edelman has] caught 29 balls. I just think it’s easy to say, ‘We’re going to try to take him out of the game.’ But people haven’t been able to do it.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On if he would be surprised if any of the road underdogs win this weekend: “If you look at the Denver-San Diego game, I think anybody who’d be shocked at the outcome there is just not paying attention. The two games this year it’s Denver 48, San Diego 47. San Diego has triple the rushing yards that Denver does when they’ve played against each other this year. So, anybody who thinks that San Diego is a giant underdog I think just hasn’t watched the games this year. And who knows, Denver could win by 20, I don’t know. But I think San Diego’s got a shot there. I would pick Denver, but I think San Diego’s got a shot.

“I think Indianapolis has a shot. Anybody who can basically put 35 points on the board in 25 minutes or whatever they did last week, I’ve got tremendous respect for their offense to be able to score a lot.

“New Orleans, I definitely think the Saints — I can see a lot of scenarios that they win. But two things about this game: Drew Brees has thrown two interceptions in each of his last three road games. And the fourth road game from here was the game at Seattle where he was lousy that day, too. So, I would just be surprised if they won, but I wouldn’t be shocked, because we’ve all seen Drew Brees play great, and Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston are gigantic weapons.”

On Josh McDaniels pulling out of the running for the Browns head coaching vacancy: “I think Josh McDaniels looks at it and he’s 37 years old. And basically he got run out of Denver. So, he understands that he probably has one chance at being a head coach, if he’s unsuccessful, the rest of his career. So, I think part of this was Josh McDaniels realizing that he might wake up when he gets fired by Cleveland and he’ll be 41 years old and he’ll know that, ‘For the next 20 years, I’m going to be an assistant coach if I stay in the NFL. I’m probably not going to get another chance.’

“I think part of it, too, was he loves being where he is — absolutely loves it. And if you feel like you’re in a coaching nirvana right now, to leave there it would have to be a great situation.

“Now, to be fair, I’m not sure the Browns would have hired Josh McDaniels. Because even though Jimmy Haslem, when they met last week for 7 1/2 hours in New England last Saturday, even though they had a great meeting and Jimmy Haslem really liked McDaniels, he also understands that in some ways this hire has to be a bit of a PR hire. Because you can’t name a coach and then get routed in the press conference. By that I mean you can’t name a coach and then have the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and the Akron Beacon-Journal and all the TV and radio stations saying, ‘This coach stinks. Why’d you hire him?’ You just can’t do it. And there would be a lot of people who would say, ‘Why are we hiring a guy who failed at the only time he was a head coach in the NFL.’ So, that I think had something to do with all of this, too.”

Read More: Andrew Luck, Donald Brown, Drew Brees, Josh McDaniels
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