The 1999 off-season was a dramatic period in Colts history, though not many more than two people were involved.
That was when Peyton Manning (entering his second year) and Marvin Harrison worked tirelessly and created a portion of the telepathy that haunted the NFL for years.
The off-season work on the club’s practice field resulted in 115 completions for 1,663 yards and 12 touchdowns that year.
The duo combined for 953 completions for 12,766 yards and 112 touchdowns in 158 games together, totals that stand as NFL records.
Chuck Pagano now has a new second-year quarterback in Andrew Luck. Luck set the NFL rookie passing mark in 2012 with 4,374 yards, snapping Manning’s rookie total of 3,739 along the way.
Workout rules are different now, but Pagano expects Luck to use the off-season to do much of the same thing.
“It’s never going to be the same as it was (in 1999 with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison) just because of rules and the way the CBA is set up now,” said Pagano. “They just don’t let you throw and catch anymore as much as they used to.”
Pagano was one of many coaches who felt the wrath of Manning-to-Harrison.
“They could just look at each other and be on the same page with no communication at all,” said Pagano. “You have that many throws and catches, I used to marvel when we played them back in the day.
“The different places I’ve been, I watched them go through pre-game. Pre-game was just fun for me. They’d run the whole route tree and go up and down the field. You knew exactly what was coming, but you still couldn’t stop it from a defense’s perspective.”
Luck represents a significant portion of the new era for the Colts. He follows in the heritage of John Unitas, Bert Jones, Earl Morrall and Manning, and Pagano sees Luck being the ringleader for off-season chemistry.
“These guys are going to get together at some point somewhere, but it’s never going to be the same as it used to be,” said Pagano. “I think through OTAs, training camp and seasons the longer this group is together, especially the young tight ends and receivers, the chemistry will start to improve year in and year out.
“The way the CBA is set up and the restrictions they put on you, it makes it harder to accomplish and build that bond.”
Manning and Harrison became the first QB-WR duo to top 10,000 passing yards. They are the only one to surpass 100 touchdown connections.
The second NFL duo to reach 10,000 passing yards was Manning and Reggie Wayne. They totaled 10,602 yards in 157 games.
Manning’s first year was Harrison’s third, and they played for 11 seasons. Manning’s fourth year was Wayne’s first, and they played for 10 years.
Luck and Wayne intersected in 2012, combining for 1,355 yards. Father time will prevent Wayne from reaching 10,000 yards with a second quarterback, but Luck has young targets who one day may approach the milestone.
Regardless, Pagano sees Luck working within the rules to conjure telepathy of his own.
“There’s no doubt (Andrew will do that, too). He’ll orchestrate that,” said Pagano. “Those guys being on the same page and developing that chemistry, that’s how you get to the point where Manning and Harrison or Manning and Reggie (Wayne) got.
“I have no doubt in my mind that when it comes to that, Andrew will do what he has to do to make that happen.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, indianapolis colts, Marvin Harrison, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne
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