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Colts Film Room: Anticipation, Discipline Still Impeding Brissett’s Ceiling

Jacoby Brissett has been a serviceable backup in Andrew Luck’s absence, but he still has a long way to go

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As we have a handful of times this season, we will again check in on the Indianapolis Colts young quarterback and how he’s progressing. Jacoby Brissett has dealt with coming into a new system, attempting to gain chemistry with his receivers as well as having to also grow as a young signal caller since joining the Colts.

Initially Brissett somewhat blew us away in how he was able to fight through all of that and make some plays. Now, we’re seeing that nothing could be more important than Brissett’s discipline being a top priority moving forward.

The Colts offensive line has been a hot mess — that we can’t argue with — and as players come in and out of the starting unit, the struggles appear to deepen. But, as we’ve seen in previous weeks, Brissett has a real issue with getting the ball out of his hands, in rhythm with any consistency.

If the offensive line has been an issue, Brissett’s lack of discipline with his progressions, and fundamentally when being moved off of his base are equally concerning. Brissett is dropping his eyes, and the football very quickly with any sign of pressure, and when faced with quick decision-making situations he’s hesitating often.

At times he shows great anticipation when going downfield, but more often than not he’s maybe a split second late with his timing and now he doesn’t see the receivers open throughout the remainder of their route. In the NFL simply having position on the defender is “open” on certain routes, whereas a few feet of space is needed on others.

Brissett simply doesn’t appear comfortable with tight windows more often than not. He looks away from open receivers and hones in on others despite them being bracketed — there’s really no rhyme or reason to how he’ll perform on any given play to this point. Though a lot of positions need to start holding up their end of the bargain, Brissett has to be the one who doesn’t waiver.

This is still very much a process and with how well Brian Shottenheimer had Andrew Luck at his very best last season, as well as getting Brissett ready for his first few games with very little space to work with, it’s on Brissett to take what he’s learning and build on it.

Well, I saw some things in the first half of Sunday’s slaughtering so let’s take a look.

Get The Ball Out on 1st Down

Here’s a situation in which Brissett does face some pressure at the top of his drop. But, this play represents more than just the linemen failing against 4 rushers. The timing on this play, the route combinations and Brissett’s inability to just get the ball out on first down are on equal ground of blame. Just look at where the receivers are within their routes as the pressure gets to Brissett.

At the first pause you see, both, T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack open as soon as Brissett gets to the top of his drop. Hilton isn’t looking for some reason, but Mack is, and he’s open. I can’t stress enough how important the sure reception to your most dynamic running back — especially on first down — early in the game is.

A one-on-one situation in space is exactly what you want to offer a back like Mack, not to mention Brissett knows — or at least he should know by now — that the rest of the routes aren’t opening up for another second-and-a-half.

In that regard, this shows how messed up this play design is. It’s clear two steps into his drop that Donte Moncrief’s and Kamar Aiken’s routes aren’t opening up against this coverage, and Hilton doesn’t even offer eye contact to Brissett until he’s completely across the formation. Poorly designed routes, poor execution and poor vision all in one play.

Learn From Previous Mistakes, Coverages

This clip is nearly the same play design, against the same coverage on the backend as the first clip. The main difference on this play, which allows it to open up, is that Jack Doyle actually puts a body on one of the pass rushers. This gives Brissett a ton of time to get the ball out of his hands, with multiple receivers opening up throughout its duration.

On the same drag route we saw from the first clip, Hilton opens up underneath and has a ton of space to work with, he’s looking for the ball this time, but Brissett is focused on Moncrief. This is a third down so I get it somewhat, but that’s a ball you give to Hilton in hopes that he can win against a single defender with that much room in the middle of the field to evade a tackle.

Next, we see that if Brissett wasn’t still trying to force the ball to Moncrief that he’d have Doyle wide open near the sideline with plenty room to make a safe throw. He doesn’t and now he’s in trouble.

So in review for the first two clips: With near immediate pressure, kick it over to your running back who leaked out specifically for this very situation. And when you have time to bypass your initial safe read, and everyone else executes get the ball to your playmakers in space as they open up. He can’t limit his options by staring down a single receiver.

Multiple Receivers Open, Too Much Second-Guessing

For our next look, we have another third down situation where Brissett has more time than he knows what to do with, yet the ball stays in his hand even when receivers open up. As we mentioned in the introduction to this piece, a few feet is open in the NFL and he can’t get himself to make a decision.

Immediately Doyle is open, but of course we understand not throwing it there due to him being short of the sticks. But, coming back across the field is Chester Rogers with the middle of the field as his playground and a few feet of separation to secure a throw and achieve the first down.

He gets bypassed too. This one I can’t condone.

Almost immediately after that Hilton is in position to allow Brissett to throw the ball towards the boundary on a comeback route with room to spare, and Moncrief has a 50/50 opportunity if Brissett just chucks it to the back corner of the end zone.

Nope, neither get the ball and Brissett gets touched again by the Jacksonville defense.

Get Into Field Goal Range

Now we’re looking at the end of the half. The Colts have the ball, all three timeouts and are in really good field position to get a couple plays off and at least get into field goal range.

Ok, so at the first pause Doyle’s open. It’s not a huge chunk of yardage if you hit him immediately, but you have time constraints and NEED points before the half. Doyle is bypassed. But, let’s play devil’s advocate for a second here.

Almost simultaneously Hilton is open along the boundary on another comeback route. Won’t take a lot of time off the clock, may not even have to use a timeout if Hilton gets out of bounds, but no dice.

So, by now the pressure is on Brissett and he breaks out of the pocket. Now, he has an opportunity to hit Moncrief along the other boundary while he’s on the move, but slides instead for a loss of yardage and having no choice but to use a timeout.

Every time I watch this play, all I can think of is multiple sections of fans screaming “throw the ball!” several times throughout the first half. A major opportunity missed.

Trust the Timing, Use Anticipation

Here we see a situation in which Brissett should have come off of his initial read immediately — even before the first pause. The receiver is bracketed before Brissett even gets to the third step in his drop. The timing of this play best syncs up with either Doyle or Moncrief, and it’s hard to tell if Brissett is maintaining his focus on Rogers or has moved on to Doyle.

It appears as though he does move on to Doyle, but doesn’t let go of the ball. Granted, the pressure is there almost immediately as he progresses, but a couple of things need to happen if we’re truly talking about how to develop at the position.

Either Brissett needs to throw the ball and be comfortable with getting hit as he releases the ball, or he needs to work on his anticipation and let this one fly before he’s in that situation. The timing with Hilton is nearly identical to that of Doyle and Moncrief’s routes, however, due to it being a deeper route it may not look like it.

In the case of Hilton’s route, Brissett could release the ball at the same time and as Hilton hits the top of his route the ball is on the way between him and the sideline. This is literally the definition of throwing with anticipation. Additionally, Brissett needs to work on his footwork.

I appreciate that he is climbing the pocket a little more naturally than he has previously, but simply stepping to his left, resetting his feet and firing the ball to any of the above mentioned receivers could have saved this sack and gotten the Colts in position to at least put 3 points on the board.

Frenetic is the word that continually comes to mind, and that can’t be who he is if this offense is going to have any chance at all at improving. He’s got a long way to go regardless of how much of the offense he knows and understands right now.