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Why does Andrew Luck struggle so much in the red zone?

By Larry Hartstein | Senior Analyst
Colts QB Andrew Luck has lots of room for improvement in the red zone. (AP Images)

There's no getting around it: Andrew Luck has been a poor red-zone passer since entering the NFL.

In 2013, Luck completed 33 of 70 throws (47.1 percent) in the red zone while compiling an 83.0 passer rating. That's worse than Mike Glennon, Matt McGloin, Kellen Clemens and well, you get the idea.

On throws to the end zone, Luck ranked dead last among QBs with 20-plus attempts, hitting eight of 34 (23.5 percent) per Pro Football Focus. In contrast, Nick Foles completed 64 percent, Colin Kaepernick 54 percent and Peyton Manning 52 percent.

Luck still finished as the No. 6 Fantasy quarterback! Just imagine what he could do with improved red-zone efficiency.

Talent isn't the problem. Luck needed better targets and better play-calling. Consider that last year, Darrius Heyward-Bey got seven targets inside the 10-yard line, according to XN Sports. He caught one and it didn't go for a touchdown. Five-foot-nine T.Y. Hilton also got seven targets inside the 10, turning two into scores.

The return of Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen from injuries will help. So will the addition of Hakeem Nicks, despite the fact he didn't score in 2013.

Nicks is 6-1, 208 pounds and caught 24 touchdown passes his first three years. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said injuries and other issues held Nicks back the past two seasons but that moving to Indy might be "the change he needed."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano called Nicks a big, physical receiver who can beat the jam off the line. Nicks, when healthy, is just the kind of weapon Luck needs.

Luck mitigated the effect of his red-zone problems by running for four touchdowns. If he improves his efficiency as a red-zone passer, look out.

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