Indianapolis Colts fans got exactly what they wanted in Week 2 — okay, maybe not exactly. He isn’t Andrew Luck, but Jacoby Brissett certainly isn’t Scott Tolzien and considering what was available, that is what the fan base wanted. Brissett largely came through too, and nearly pulled out a victory in his first start of the season for the Colts.
Brissett went 20-of-37, for 216 yards, no touchdowns, though, and didn’t have a blemish until overtime which isn’t all that bad in the grande scheme of it all. He showed off his arm strength, the ability to escape the pocket and throw on the run as well as the poise and determination that often leads to success.
It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, though. Brissett did leave some big plays on the field — possibly a touchdown or two — with some indecision, the occasional quick trigger and, conversely, some bad decisions. All in all, though, there’s a lot to work with and it’s reasonable to assume that he can improve from week to week.
We don’t know how much longer Luck will be out, so let’s go through some of the ups and down with what we saw from Brissett Sunday, and look ahead to what we should expect from his development as the Colts starter until then.
Going Through Progressions
One of the most important aspects you want to see from a young quarterback is the ability to get through their progressions effectively. Very early on Brissett showed that he was able to do this effectively. There’s nothing flashy, or even extraordinary about this play in the general sense, however, even with limited time to study his reads Brissett did a nice job of making a smart decision on third down by getting to his third read.
Initially Brissett gives a hard look at Kamar Aiken working outside-in on a 10-yard dig route, but sees that he’s covered. He then moves to Donte Moncrief on the shallow drag and recognizes that he’s running towards heavy coverage. Finally, he works back to Robert Turbin coming out of the backfield with some space to work with.
It payed off as Turbin was able to make a move and get past the sticks for a first down. Again, nothing fancy, but you can see his wheels turning naturally — he’s not overthinking anything.
Cool Under Pressure
Here’s another third down situation that Brissett completes and converts, all while getting a face full of Josh Mauro. First of all, it’s a good thing that this play included several short routes. Second, put aside the ball placement and just understand that Brissett takes his drop reads the defender, stands tall in the pocket and throws the ball accurately enough to get the ball in between three defenders when getting hit as he releases the ball.
This shows more than accuracy, or even that Brissett can take a hit. It shows that he isn’t going often going to flinch or just fling the ball all willy-nilly in the face of pressure. Confidence and tangible toughness is a nice quality in a backup quarterback. I love this play.
Brissett Throwing with Anticipation
Much like Brissett showing the ability to go through his progressions, throwing with anticipation is another necessary quality in an NFL quarterback. Here you can see Brissett immediately getting his head around after the play action and is eyeballing Jack Doyle as he moves across the field.
You can see where Doyle is in conjunction to the defenders as Brissett prepares to load and release the ball. Then look at where Doyle is, and where the ball is thrown. This is an excellent throw — of course it’s a great route and catch too — and shows how well Brissett can gauge where to put the ball, to where only Doyle can get to it.
There’s so much good in the three clips above, and should give us all confidence in his ability to get better the more he plays. Of course there are areas where he needs to improve through consistency as well, let’s take a look see.
Brissett took a few big hits in his first start, but this one in particular is on him. Antoine Bethea is down in the box, and moves himself to a position in which he knows Robert Turbin will have to make a decision who to pick up. Now, sure enough, some will want to lay blame for this on Joe Haeg, but he has his own assignment.
As soon as Bethea overloads the right side of the formation, Brissett should have adjusted T.Y. Hilton’s placement and called for him to chip Bethea in order to give him an extra second to get the ball out. Turbin picks up the inside rusher( I think it’s Xavier Williams), but Bethea is free to get a shot at Brissett.
This isn’t a situation where Brissett doesn’t know the playbook, this is as simple as a mistake from a young quarterback failing to get his house in order pre-snap. Additionally, Brissett pumps and doesn’t trust the receiver will be cutting off his route on time — that IS an issue with familiarity and will come with time.
This is something that all young passers struggle with from time to time, but this mistake was particularly costly considering the situational aspect of it. It was a third down play with 2:08 left in the fourth quarter.
Here we see good awareness, internal clock and decision making from Brissett, but his ball placement simply isn’t where it needs to be. Though I didn’t point it out in the clip, Brissett does look at Doyle first, works off of him and attempts to go for first down yardage by targeting Aiken.
Aiken was open, and working back towards Brissett, but instead of putting this ball in Aiken’s chest, it sails a bit on him and proves extremely difficult for Aiken to haul in. I’ve tried looking at both sides of this throw, and I think it falls somewhere in between a need to improve accuracy, and a lack of chemistry.
Maybe Brissett doesn’t think Aiken will work back to the ball and he tries to power it in there to avoid a pass break up. On the other hand, he puts enough on it to get the ball there successfully without adding trajectory. Again, this will come with reps, hopefully this week in practice.
This was a play that stood out to me live, and knew that it had the chance to be a huge play early in the game. Much like we saw Brissett standing tall in the pocket throwing the ball while being hit, this instance he had an opportunity to get the ball out before he was tagged and failed to let it rip.
Donte Moncrief didn’t have a great game Sunday, but this could have been a touchdown and made his day worlds more palatable in the end. Brissett follows through with the play action, and though he did get hit, when he plants his back foot the ball should have come out. There was nobody but the referee there to defend the pass over the top and Moncrief had his coverage beat.
Again, you can look at this as a situation where maybe Moncrief wasn’t where Brissett thought he’d be, or you can look at it in the light of his being indecisive with big play sitting in front of him. Maybe you see something different, but I see a missed touchdown.
Look, I’m not looking to cook Brissett, he did a lot of good things, and i’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on a lot of these. I’m simply pointing out both sides of his game. With that said, this play made my skin crawl.
Plain and simple, Brissett has no excuse for missing Aiken here. There’s a blown coverage here, and more than enough time to put a touchdown on the board, but Brissett simply misses it. He has good protection, and though it’s a nice route by Moncrief, Aiken literally has half of the field all to himself.
This is nothing other than a lack of vision, and locking on to a target before the ball is snapped — a predetermined decision on where to go with the ball. Additionally, Brissett throws into the teeth of the Cardinals’ coverage. This could have easily been an interception with anything less than a perfect throw.
All the while, Aiken is all by his lonesome knowing he could have had 6, or at a minimum gotten inside the 10 yard line.
For our final clip, we again see a clean pocket for Brissett to throw from and a pivotal moment in the game. Third down, more than halfway through the fourth quarter and he gets antsy because Moncrief was so open.
I get it to a point, you assume getting the ball to a playmaker with a few yards of space should allow him to make a play and move the sticks, but knowing the rest of the routes, he shouldn’t have been so quick to get the ball away in this case.
He wasn’t pressured and his second option (T.Y. Hilton) — with a reception — would have moved the sticks even without any yards after the catch. With the factor of what Hilton could have done after the catch, it could have been a monster gain with only one defender in front of him, and only working against one additional defender that he’d have to outrun.
More poise would have been nice here, but look, this entire piece was to point out the ups and downs of what we saw Sunday from Brissett. There is quite a bit to be encouraged about, but he has some of the finer points of the position to clean up just the same. I’m excited to see what he can do after another week of preparation.