INDIANAPOLIS — In a perfect Indianapolis Colts world, quarterback Andrew Luck will get some payback on Sunday against mouthy Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
The Colts aren’t taking the bait and engaging in a war of words with Ramsey, who took an unprovoked shot at Luck in an Aug. 15 story in GQ magazine.
"I don't really think he's that good,” Ramsey said of Luck. “Him and T.Y. (Hilton) had a connection in the past that made him stand out a little bit more, but I don't think he's good.”
Admit it, you’d like to see Luck light this guy up.
Ramsey is actually right. Luck isn’t good, he’s great. Statistics prove that. The three-time Pro Bowl passer is on pace to set career numbers this season.
But proving that with a convincing AFC South Division victory at Lucas Oil Stadium just doesn’t quite seem enough, huh? Ramsey flat out disrespected the man, for whatever reason, presumably to make more of an outspoken name for himself, build that cocky brand, although the third-year cover corner elevated himself in 2017 with play in being named first-team All-Pro and making his first Pro Bowl.
Luck, of course, always takes the high road when asked about the negative opinions of others. He’s above all that.
“No, I don’t read anything,” he said on Wednesday with an amused smile. “It’s sort of what people tell me. It’s part of the game, it’s all good.”
All good? Luck is such a nice guy.
What you would love to hear him say is something like: “Who the hell is Jalen Ramsey? He makes a couple of plays and thinks his opinion on anything matters? Here’s some friendly advice. Shut the hell up and just play.”
But, alas, that won’t happen. Luck has always been the consummate professional. He’s always “all good,” unless he’s blaming himself for every time the Colts lose.
“Ramsey’s a stud,” he said later.
This is where Old School meets Next Generation. Old School means not giving an opponent any ammunition, even when it’s a Next Generation guy who likes to hear himself talk. Ignore it as insignificant. Saying it’s no bother is testament that it's really not.
But something tells me that maybe a few of Luck’s teammates took exception to that comment. How could they not?
First-year Colts head coach Frank Reich said he doesn’t discuss trash talk with his players, but sounded a bit Old School in acknowledging such comments can resonate.
“I think guys understand that it’s part of the business that we are in. I think there are instances where certain guys and certain players are motivated by it more than others,” Reich said. “I think as a coach, you play off that. You play off that for your team and for a player. You take them on a case-by-case basis.”
In this case, coach, how about suggesting nasty rookie guard Quenton Nelson sweep a leg, so to speak? OK, OK, this isn’t “The Karate Kid.” It’s not like Luck is Ralph Macchio being bullied relentlessly by the Cobra Kais in the 1984 movie.
But is that joke more harsh than the timing of Ramsey’s comment? Luck was coming back from missing 2017 due to shoulder surgery. His career was seemingly in doubt.
That’s when you kick the man, when he’s down? That’s cold-blooded in anyone’s playbook.
As NFL trash talk goes, Ramsey’s words aren’t the worst that could have been said. Veteran players can share stories about family members being insulted in conversation. Sometimes, it goes beyond that.
There’s one memorable story shared years ago about a player I can’t remember who was a creative trash talker. He somehow got the phone number of an opponent’s girlfriend and recited it to the opponent, asking him to tell her to stop calling. Kudos for style points there.
Colts tight end Eric Ebron smiled when asked about Ramsey’s critique of Luck. Nobody in the Colts locker room seems to have more fun as Ebron, who describes himself as a “jokester” and insists he respects everyone in the NFL when he’s off the field.
But when on the field, Ebron admits he won’t back down from a mouthy defender.
“You trash talk me,” he said, “you awake the beast.”
Ebron is having a career year, too. He leads all NFL tight ends with seven TD receptions. Here’s hoping that Ramsey has the opportunity to impart some of his infinite wisdom on Ebron. Mr. Ramsey, if you really want to dance, pick Ebron as your partner. Pretty please.
“That’s just his personality,” Ebron said with a shrug about Ramsey. “I’m a totally different dude. But he has to go up against Andrew, not me. He’ll see for himself.”
Luck has thrown three or more touchdown passes in five consecutive games, the longest such streak in the league.
If he could do it again versus the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense, that would be something to see. Who knows, maybe that could qualify as Andrew Luck actually being good.