Don’t even go there, Colts fans.
Sure, Matt Hasselbeck is 4-0 as a starter. And, sure, injured Andrew Luck has struggled this season to make plays in the same offense.
But, please, squelch those thoughts about sitting a healthy Luck in favor of 40-year-old Hasselbeck in a week or two.
Pluck Luck? That is just silly.
For the time being, Hasselbeck is the starting quarterback. And it will remain that way for a while yet.
Luck, who has been out since Nov. 10 with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle, started throwing the football last week and did so again Wednesday.
“Feeling better every day,” Luck told ESPN. “Getting some good work in, getting back into it and keep working day by day. I think I’m still focusing on making improvements every day. I’m throwing a little and getting back out there, which is always fun.
“You have to wait for it to heal. It’s still in the process. … I feel fine. It’s different. It’s not an ankle. It’s not a muscle.”
There still is no timetable on when Luck will return to the starting lineup. Coach Chuck Pagano said this week that Luck will be back once he’s 100 percent healthy and he’s given clearance by the medical staff. Luck said his injuries are not completely healed.
In the interim, Hasselbeck has been nothing short of brilliant, leading the Colts to five wins, including impressive wins at Atlanta and over Tampa Bay.
“We’re just playing team football,” Hasselbeck said this week. “I’m just trying not to screw it up. That’s all.”
He’s doing more than that. He’s setting receivers in the right position. He’s making audibles out of bad plays into good ones. Against the Buccaneers, he completed 26 of 42 passes for 315 yards. As a starter, he’s 4-0 this season. In NFL history, only Brett Favre had four straight wins in his 40s.
That is great news for the Colts, who have emerged through a particularly rough stretch in the schedule at 6-5 and in control of the AFC South.
As it turns out, the presence of a backup came at the perfect time. The Colts were coming undone as a franchise. There were rumblings of front-office tension between the coach and the general manager. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was fired. The defense wasn’t in sync. Luck wasn’t healthy. Pagano, whose contract runs out after the season, was coaching for his football life.
Hasselbeck may end up being the one who keeps things together, perhaps even some jobs in the Colts’ organization, and it has been as much about limiting errors as it is making brilliant throws.
And going into the next two road games at Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, Hasselbeck is the man.
While he is the best man for the moment — and the Colts are indeed fortunate — let’s not turn this into something more.
Luck is not just the quarterback of this team, he is the face of the franchise. When healed, he will play. There is no question and should be no debate, despite Twitter rants and sports talk innuendo.
“That’s ludicrous,” Pagano said when asked about that suggestion this week.
Coach, I could not agree more.
Don’t even go there.