In a season where the Indianapolis Colts have been without their franchise quarterback all season and have put the weight of the offense on Jacoby Brissett’s shoulders, some patience has been needed. Well, we’re in to Week 14 now and after conducting multiple film room pieces on Brissett’s progression — or lack thereof sometimes — I have run out of patience.
Brissett has been the literal Jekyll and Hyde under center for the Colts this season having some growing pains early on, but showing at least a three-game span (Weeks 8-10) of quality play putting up 6 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions and looking as though he was taking the next step fundamentally. However, he’s followed those games with consecutive starts without reaching 200 passing yards and has thrown a total of just 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
Brissett has fallen back into some of his bad habits and, quite honestly, it’s becoming exhausting watching it week in and week out without any tangible growth without regression. And since I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve decided to take you through some of these examples that continue to make my blood boil. Won’t you join me?
Staring Down Receivers
By now I think it’s fair to say that we’ve seen about what we’re going to see from Brissett in terms of his fundamentals and within the intricacies of the quarterback position — at least for this year. One of the most important abilities for a quarterback when going through their reads is to diagnose during the drop allowing for a seamless progression to the next read.
Eye discipline is crucial in terms of getting off the initial option and Brissett continues to stare down receivers when he predisposes that the first read will be open. This is a perfect example of that. Brissett stares down T.Y. Hilton from the snap — and that’s fine if he is open immediately — but never comes off of him, even when Chester Rogers opens up immediately underneath with some space to work with.
More than anything I think this is a simple case of Brissett forcing passes and sort of freelancing with footwork rather than trusting the process and moving on when his timing is off with the receiver. Had Brissett actually completed the three-step drop, the defense may have sagged a bit more and his timing with Hilton would have been better.
Refusing to Check Down
The Colts have an electric running back in Marlon Mack who is more than capable of taking it the distance anytime he touches the ball, but Brissett simply fails multiple times weekly to check the ball down to him and takes needless sacks. This might just be the thing I notice most and drives me crazy as it drives the hyperbole of the offensive line being the issue for the sacks and offensive inefficiency.
I mean just look at it. Brissett wants to go deep, doesn’t have it and has an opportunity to drop the ball off — but instead chooses to scramble and loses critical yardage with the sacks, and the chance for a big play. Maddening.
Accuracy On Short-to-Intermediate Throws
Yes, I understand that Brissett shouldn’t be expected to have elite accuracy. However, we often see some silly issues with his passes. Here Brissett has time and a clear passing lane to throw this ball. But, this almost looks like a pitcher losing his accuracy from trying to overthrow the ball.
Brissett’s arm is plenty strong without the added torque he forces on his throws sometimes. Here Rogers is covered tightly but does have a glimmer of space. Brissett ends up throwing the ball over Rogers head, when this should have been thrown to the boundary side of Rogers’ body.
There were no defenders there to worry about, and Rogers’ matchup has inside position on him. It’s a risky throw on first down to begin with, but that risk is magnified by the inaccuracy of the throw. Low and away should be Brissett’s mindset here.
Keeping Eyes Downfield
Look, I’m not going to bust on Brissett much for this, but it leads to the larger issue. Here we see Joe Haeg allowing pressure which breaks down the entire play. But, in these moments of having receivers covered downfield initially and added pressure from the interior, Brissett struggles to keep his eyes downfield when escaping the pocket.
Granted this is pretty bang-bang, but looking to unload the ball as quickly as possible has to be his goal here. Both Jack Doyle and Hilton are working back to the ball as he scrambles, and even if he doesn’t have the trust in himself to make either of those throws, Brissett has to put this ball in the stands to save the yardage.
Brissett’s legs have extended some drives, that much is true, but his inability to wisely unload the ball in some capacity has killed far more and added to the astronomical sack numbers we see next to his name.
Here is where the message gets missed sometimes. I am all for Brissett being more aggressive in order to increase his passing touchdowns. Naturally, this also would increase his interceptions but in order for the Colts offense to be any sort of a threat to opposing defenses it’s a necessary evil.
Brissett currently sits at 29th among 35 quarterbacks with a 2.8% touchdown rate which is baffling considering Brissett’s natural skill set. This throw, however, is not a smart decision at all. He has Rogers in between multiple defenders and ignores the sure-thing first down throw that is available underneath to Hilton — whom he otherwise rarely takes his eyes off of.
These are drive killers, obviously, and confidence destroyers. Especially when they continue to occur. This could explain the disconnect between Brissett and his receivers in long stretches during games.
The Red Zone Hates the Colts
In spite of everything we’ve seen thus far, Brissett and the Colts’ offense are getting chances in the red zone to put points on the board. But all of the issues that plague them in the middle of the field culminate inside the 20-yard line as well, and the Colts are often forced to settle for field goals. Who, exactly, Brissett is staring down is somewhat unclear, but it doesn’t matter either.
All three receivers to that side of the field are blanketed by the secondary, yet he never moves off them and misses Hilton for an otherwise easy touchdown. Could he have asked for better protection? Could he have asked for a more natural development of the routes run on this play? The safety bites, Hilton beats his man and comes open on the backside of the play, but the progression from A to B never comes and he has to scramble up the middle to gain some positive yardage.
All of these samples are occurring far too often for a guy who now has been in the system for three months with constant coaching and with ‘live bullets.’ He should be further along in these areas now. It’s no longer learning the playbook; it’s well into the development of his fundamental approach and ability to learn as he goes. I just don’t know how much we can say he’s retaining from these experiences.