Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen Jacoby Brissett make a large leap toward growing up as an NFL quarterback. Early on when looking at his film the common theme was his holding the ball too long, an unwillingness to throw the ball into tight windows and an overall lack of trust in the receiver corps.
In his first 6 starts, Brissett tossed 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and had a completion rate of 59.7% throughout hist first 201 attempts. In Weeks 8 and 9, Brissett completed 65.2% of his throws and added 4 more touchdowns with only 1 additional interception.
A byproduct of those statistical improvements is the Indianapolis Colts averaging 22 points in those two games versus the 17 points per game they averaged from Weeks 1-7. Another is the offense’s ability to sustain more drives, while a vast improvement in his fundamental growth has become evident.
He’s still not perfect, by any means, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and with 7 more games yet to be played, the hope is that he will continue to get better in every way.
An aside to that is the Colts are getting Denzelle Good, Clayton Geathers and Erik Swoope back into the lineup soon — most likely, and hopefully. Having this talent return in conjunction with Brissett’s improvements could plausibly get the team back in contention for the division.
Let’s take a look into his Week 9 performance and witness some of each side of the coin.
Excellent Recognition and Accuracy
This is one of the plays I thought best shows every bit of Brissett’s skillset. Following the play-action fake, Brissett gets his head to the middle of the field earning Jack Doyle a ton of attention from the safety and both middle linebackers. Just for a second you can see the safety turn his hips in order to break on a pass up the seam to Doyle, as he does, Brissett recognizes that the cornerback matched up with T.Y. Hilton doesn’t follow him up the boundary.
This is all the space Brissett needed to throw a rope to Hilton in the hole between the safety and cornerback. This throw was on time, accurate and with some great arm strength and shows off that Brissett’s ability to use some eye discipline is improving. This is not an easy throw for any quarterback let alone one one getting his first season of consistent starts. I really appreciated this throw from him.
Let It Go, or Get Smashed?
Look, this was not one of his — or the team’s — better moments from Week 9, but while this is a very high-pressure situation with very little time to make a decision — he had a couple opportunities just the same. One of his issues has been getting to the top of his drop and missing his timing on throws. On this one, he simply didn’t pull the trigger with two options open and in space.
You can see that he gets to his drop and has both Doyle and Kamar Aiken open immediately. Neither of them were quite to the first down marker, but each of them had one-on-one situations where they could have reasonably succeeded in creating a missed tackle. Additionally, Brissett doesn’t like what he saw and takes an additional step back. So, what’s worse? Taking a sack, or giving your playmakers a chance to make a play?
Hopefully Brissett learned a lesson from this one. Either let it go, or get smashed and ruin any momentum you have going into halftime. Not a hard decision. These were not typical from Brissett last Sunday, though, which is an improvement nevertheless.
Timing and Anticipation
One thing right off the top. Look at Brissett and what he does at the top of his drop. He plants, steps up and releases the ball. Perfect! What also is impressive about this deep bomb to Hilton is the timing in which he releases the ball and what his trigger is.
Brissett sees that neither safety — especially the safety to Hilton’s side of the field — is dropping post snap at all. This tells him that they have underneath zones to defend and that Hilton is in a one-on-one situation. The moment Brissett sees Hilton pass that safety, he releases the ball, giving Hilton room to run underneath it without any help deep.
Excellent work from Brissett and his recognition of what he’s seeing on field and what it means for his intended target. Love this throw.
Second Guessing Still Haunts Him
While there weren’t negative consequences out of this play, other than an incompletion, Brissett did miss a perfect opportunity to hit that ‘Honey Hole’ here. Initially Brissett ganders over at Darell Daniels coming out of the backfield, he’s open but Daniels doesn’t recognize that he’s in the perfect spot in the zone and continues the second portion of his route. Good on Brissett for recognizing that quickly.
Then we see him reset his feet and look over to Aiken heading up the boundary, yet he chooses not to release the ball. As I explained earlier in the first clip, that is not an easy throw. But, in this case it was the throw that needed to be made. Aiken was open, he had the lane to throw it and Brissett had the time in the pocket to unleash that strong arm of his.
We had to show some bad with the good, but overall Brissett has shown real improvement in every aspect of his game. He’s getting into a rhythm early, is taking more chances and is getting the ball out of his hand quicker — he now understands that a receiver is open with just a couple feet of separation and it is his job to get the ball to them.
I look forward to seeing how well Brissett plays against a really good Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense while he’s progressing with his instincts and decision-making. It’s far more fun to watch him improve than it is to see him struggle and regress.