ALAMEDA – Andrew Luck is effortlessly mobile, yet not a scrambler by trade. The Indianapolis Colts quarterback throws well on the run, even deep downfield. It’s near impossible to tell whether he’s going run or pass outside the pocket, which makes him difficult to prepare for.
The Raiders have it easier than most. Their defense has practiced against a quarterback with a similar skill set since the preseason began.
While Terrelle Pryor isn’t as polished or accomplished as Luck, he’s a facsimile of what the Raiders will face on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We have a pretty good mobile quarterback here too, and we went against him every day in training camp,” Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter said. “Going up against him every day in practice has helped us out a lot. Facing Luck is something we’re prepared for, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. We just have to put it all together on Sunday.”
Putting it together requires patience. Luck is going to make plays. He’s too good to shut out over four quarters. The key is avoiding big plays that lead to easy points.
“Figuring Andrew out is kind of a hard thing to do,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “He is very smart. Andrew is a great player and an even better person. To be the best you have to beat the elite. You have to be precise and you have to have endurance to play against him. You have to keep doing things right for four quarters to have a chance. That’s the only way to beat a team with Andrew Luck on it.”
Pryor has been a good teacher, albeit unintentionally so this week. He’s starting Sunday, so he isn’t running the scout team to give the defense a closer look at a mobile quarterback.
The Raiders played against Pryor in the preseason, and Tarver has passed along knowledge when he and Luck were at Stanford.
That may make preparations for Luck easier, but the defending him well remains difficult. Defensive linemen have to flush the pocket, yet be prepared to give chase should he escape. To slow him down, it’s going to take a collective, disciplined effort.
“We’ve got to understand what his movement skills are, where he likes to escape in the pocket and how he can throw the ball on the run,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “The thing that he can do is he can extend the play, so we’re got to be good in our coverage down the field, and be able to stay in coverage for longer periods of time when he starts to run around. It’s something that we have to be aware of. Our pass rush lanes have to be right. We’ve talked a lot about his ability to move around in the pocket, his ability to scramble out.”