Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak knows a thing or two about being a successful quarterback in the National Football League.
Kubiak was a standout collegiate quarterback himself at Texas A&M before being selected by Denver in the eighth round of the 1983 NFL draft. He spent all of his playing career with the Broncos from 1983-1991, He spent his entire career as a backup to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, seeing action in 119 games, before moving into the coaching ranks.
He began his NFL coaching career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994, serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach and working with another future Hall of Famer (Steve Young). Young was named as the league’s Most Valuable Player and was the Super Bowl MVP that season.
Kubiak went back to Denver a year later and became the Broncos’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, positions that he would hold until 2005 when he became the head coach in Houston. During his second tour of duty in Denver, where he won two more Super Bowl titles, Elway was named as Super Bowl XXXIII MVP.
With that as a backdrop, the Texans coach was asked this past week for his impressions of Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Indianapolis and Houston will face off this afternoon at Reliant Stadium in an AFC South matchup that has plenty of playoff implications for both teams.
Both Luck and Kubiak grew up and played high school football in the Houston area. And Kubiak is an acquaintance of Luck’s father, former Houston Oilers backup quarterback Oliver Luck.
The question posed to Kubiak was an obvious one: You’ve been around some great quarterbacks during your time in the NFL. What do you think of Luck and his future in the league?
“I tell you what, I thought he was as good of a player as I’ve ever seen come out going back to [former Colts quarterback] Peyton [Manning] when I studied Peyton. I said that a couple of times in the draft room [this past spring],” he said.
“Actually, I saw that young man [Luck] in high school. He grew up right here down the road [from the Texans’ offices] and I watched him throw some seven-on-seven tournaments and stuff while my kids were growing up. And he’s been exceptional at every level he’s played. Now, he’s at the highest level and he’s doing it again. I think he’s going to do it a long, long time.”
Perhaps the thing that caught Kubiak’s attention the most while reviewing Luck’s season thus far was the rookie’s sense of the game.
“You can tell he’s a student of the game. [He] has a total grasp from that standpoint and he’s a tremendous competitor that seems the tougher the situation, the better he is as a player,” the Texans’ coach pointed out.
Kubiak wasn’t done with his enthusiasm for the Colts’ first-year quarterback.
“I think [Luck is] exceptional. I think I’ve said this a couple times. He sure as heck hasn’t disappointed. He’s been excellent this year. I told the team [this week] he’s playing like an eight-, nine-year football player when you watch him play. He’s handling a ton of offense. He makes plays off-schedule and the bigger the situation, the bigger he makes. I’m extremely impressed with him. I know our football team is, too, after watching him,” he said.
“Good, young, fast, football team that’s coming in here. [The Colts have] built this thing really, really quick. [Interim coach] Bruce [Arians] has done an amazing job with them.”
When pressed further, Kubiak offered up who he thinks Luck most closely resembles as an NFL quarterback.
“The thing about this guy, he reminds me a lot of [Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback] Ben Roethlisberger from a standpoint even when you get there [to rush the quarterback], he’s hard to tackle. He’s a big guy. He’s very athletic, makes a lot of plays with his feet. It’s got to be a big conscious effort for us to keep him contained and then when we do have our opportunities you got to really work to bring him down,” the Texans coach said.
“You can make just an incredible highlight reel of him, people just hanging on to him and him still making plays. It’ll be a big point of emphasis, but this guy is not a rookie. He’s been playing, like I said, an eight, nine-year vet. He’s been exceptional.”
While some outside observers sometime attribute some of the success of the Manning brothers — Peyton and Eli — or Luck in the NFL to the fact their fathers were former players in the league, Kubiak won’t go that far. How they were raised makes a big difference as well.
“I would say this, obviously, Oliver [Luck] and his wife have raised a tremendous young man, not only a football player, but a tremendous young man. He’s been successful at every level. I watched him at Stratford High School [in Houston], what he did. You watch him go to Stanford. You watch a kid come in this league and handle what he’s handled and go into some of the places he’s played and the way he’s played. It’s extremely impressive, but I don’t think it’s a surprise,” he said.
“I think it’s something he’s been doing all along. I think that’s happening more often now. I think some of these guys you look at [Robert Griffin III]. You look at that. You look at [Miami rookie quarterback Ryan] Tannehill. You look at some of these guys and how quick they’re being successful in this league. It says a lot about their upbringing and the way they’re being coached in college, so very impressive.”
Kubiak is not the only members of the Texans coaching staff who has been impressed. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was also an assistant and later head coach in Denver, has watched a lot of game tape of Luck in the past week.
“He’s brought a team that didn’t win [many] games last year, basically without a quarterback, brought in a quarterback, a young quarterback, and they’re right in the playoff hunt. We played against [Peyton] Manning when I was at Buffalo his first year and I think they only won two games,” Phillips said.
“This guy has made the team win a lot of games. Six times he’s brought them from behind at the end of the game. I can’t say enough about how good of a quarterback he is and how good of a future he has. That’s what is impressive is a guy who can come in the league as a rookie and say, ‘I’m going to drop back and throw it and beat you guys,’ and that’s what he’s done.”
Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak knows a thing or two about being a successful quarterback in the National Football League.
Colts not standing pat in looking toward 2013 season
Indianapolis Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has quickly earned a reputation as someone who isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit.
Landry believes he'll acclimate to Colts system
Many Indianapolis fans have questioned why strong safety Laron Landry decided to skip the Colts' OTA workouts, especially since he was joining a new team with a somewhat different defensive system than what he was used to playing with the Jets.
He understands their concerns, but isn’t worried about learning the intricacies Colts’ 3-4 hybrid package.
Colts in harmony with new coordinator Hamilton
With new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton now running the show, the Colts are in the middle of a metamorphosis from the downfield, big-play system that was utilized by former coordinator Bruce Arians to more of a West Coast scheme that will look to make more use of the short, controlled passing game.
According to Andrew Luck, so far so good.
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Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
While the Indianapolis Colts put their rookies and a handful of second-year players through workouts this weekend at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, a pair of first-year coordinators are getting a chance to do some valuable on-field work as well.
Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
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Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
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Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
The Indianapolis Colts were a busy team on the opening day of the National Football League’s veteran free agent market, which got underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his retirement from the National Football League official on Thursday.
Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
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Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
According to most National Football League draft observers, this year’s crop of prospects is deep with quality offensive and defensive linemen.
Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
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