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Reich: Luck, Colts 'can't sustain' record passing pace

NFL.com | Updated: 2018-10-09 04:00:16

With Andrew Luck back in the saddle in Indianapolis, the Colts' passing game has taken off. But Indy's first-year coach fears the team is relying too much on the pass and Luck's rehabilitated shoulder.

"It's killing me to have to throw this much," Colts skipper Frank Reich told reporters on a conference call Friday, per Pro Football Talk. "I know you can't sustain this."

Through five games this year, Luck has attempted 245 passes and completed 163, the most in a player's first five games since 1950. On Thursday night, Luck became just the second player in league history to attempt at least 55 passes in consecutive games (Philip Rivers, 2015) -- and he did so in a span of just five days.

At his current pace, Luck would shatter the record for pass attempts in a season with 784, passing Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford from 2012 (727). For what it's worth, Luck is not alone in this regard. Kirk Cousins (47.3 attempts per game) and Ben Roethlisberger (46.5) are also on pace to pass Stafford.

All this would be fine and dandy if Indianapolis had any semblance of a run-pass balance or was winning games this way. Alas, the Colts have attempted runs on just 28.3 percent of their plays in 2018, good for 31st in the league, and are alone in the AFC basement at 1-4.

In Indianapolis' four losses, Luck has averaged 53.8 pass attempts per game, and the running backs just 18.3 carries. In the Colts' lone win, a road victory over the Redskins in Week 2, Indianapolis struck a nice balance, attempting 31 passes to 28 rushes.

"We know we need balance. Football is not rocket science," Luck told reporters following Indy's loss to the Patriots on Thursday night. "We need to be able to run the ball well. We have no excuses for it."

The eventual return of injured second-year back Marlon Mack to a backfield currently comprised of unproven rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines (77 car, 274 yards, 3.56 YPA between them) should swing the balance back to more respectable levels. Otherwise, the Colts are in for a tough season -- and their rookie coach knows it.

"The story doesn't end well when you have to sustain this level of throwing," Reich said.

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