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How Jacoby Brissett Improved in Week 16 Despite Loss

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Jacoby Brissett has struggled to polish up his fundamentals this season, but lately despite losses and uninspiring numbers he has taken some steps in the right direction

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts have one of the least exciting offenses as at this point in the season. They aren’t racking up the yards, not scoring much at all and simply haven’t earned the respect of the defenses they have been playing against.

I’ve been quite clear in my assessment of Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett thus far, and that won’t change now. For all of his issues in the fundamental sense, his lack of awareness in the pocket and unwillingness to move within the pocket instead of leaving the pocket at the first sign of pressure as well as his remedial mastery in getting through progressions and making intelligent throws.

There’s no doubt that Brissett’s numbers are quite poor in his last 3 games (51.8% completion rate, 147 PYPG, 2 TDs), but we’re not going to dwell on that this go-round. At this point in his career Brissett is absolutely a backup with some very intriguing potential and a lot of natural ability — I think that’s more than fair.

But, just as I have pointed out his issues in past games, I’ve also noticed that he has actually grown as of late in a few areas that aren’t listed on any stat sheet. Let’s take a look.

In-Pocket Mobility | Ball Up, Eyes Downfield

Brisset likes to pull the ball down, tuck it and run when plays don’t materialize within a very quick time frame. Here, though, we see Brissett given the ability to scan downfield without feeling direct pressure for a few seconds. Normally, at the first pause Brissett would have looked for an escape route instead of what he did here.

He clearly had his eye on another receiver to the left side of the field, but was able to just move ever-so-slightly to the other edge of the pocket in order to put the ball into T.Y. Hilton’s hands on a crossing route. You can also clearly see that Brissett keeps the ball up — not tucked into his armpit — and his eyes downfield looking for someone to get open.

I think this was a good sign to see from him after failing to do either for a large portion of the season. Just one of a few signs of growth from him in Week 16.

Making Smooth Progressions

Again we see something out of Brissett that just was not there only a couple weeks ago. Typically we have been seeing Brissett focus hard on his initial read and waiting far too long to move on from that first option. Here we see him reading the coverage on Hilton right at the snap.

Hilton is covered pretty well with help from other defenders on his side. Brissett sees that and reacts quickly and decisively. He scans back towards Chester Rogers who is running a deeper dig route and the timing couldn’t have been much better.

Brissett’s accuracy is an issue here, as Rogers could have eaten up more YAC had he been led to the middle of the field. However, I like the work by Brissett here. The linebacker jumps at his first read which opens up the lane as he works back across the field. Mechanically, we don’t see this enough from him. Little victories folks.

Limiting Sacks by Getting the Ball Out

Brissett has been the most sacked quarterback in the league partly because of his taking far too long to release the ball, but also by scrambling to avoid the rush and failing to throw the ball away. He’s taken needless losses, often making his situation harder, but we have been seeing some deviation in that lack of situational and spacial awareness lately.

Though it’s not making much of a difference in the score column, the Colts have actually been one of the least sacked teams in the league the last 3 weeks with 4 (9th) and Brissett hasn’t turned the ball over either despite playing in a blizzard and a rain storm in that time span.

He was able to avoid the rusher coming off of edge, and instead of tucking and running, he evaded the tackle and immediately chucked in order to live another play. This doesn’t seem as though it would be something that should be celebrated, but Brissett had been surviving purely off of arm talent this season including the deep ball. That’s just not sustainable when the instincts to protect yardage simply weren’t firing for most of the season.

This is a welcome addition and is actually a big step in a quarterback’s progression as a passer believe it or not.

Staying Calm in Clean Pockets

As mentioned several times before, Brissett has been one to get frantic in the pocket deciding to use his feet as well as failing to use his checkdown when getting into trouble. Here is a very good example of what happens when a quarterback takes their time, simply relocates within the pocket — whether it be moving laterally or stepping up — and uses the assets provided to him when it all breaks down.

It should be said that Brissett’s protection hasn’t always been what it was through spurts in Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. On the other hand, the narrative surrounding the sacks the Colts have given up this year doesn’t necessary convey how often he’s had more than enough time to deliver the ball because of the protection he’s been given.

Another side to this has been the assumption that Brissett has held on to the ball, not checked it down as if he didn’t trust those around him, and has at times ignored some of his playmakers. I think this is somewhat true, or he didn’t trust himself to deliver the ball effectively which is a whole additional conversation.

For whatever reason it’s been happening this season, this play shows that even one of the lesser dynamic pieces of the collective group of skill players, Jack Doyle shows that most of Brissett’s weapons are capable of making plays in space.

We don’t know at this time how much Brissett will mean as a backup going forward. But, if you look at this in terms of him having the possibility to grow into what we see his potential to be, Brissett may have just had the most important 4-month stretch of experience of his career.

The Colts may end up lucking out — no pun intended — and have him in their arsenal if disaster was to strike again.