Coming out of the 2018 spring training program, there are early indications of progress and setbacks at numerous positions for the Indianapolis Colts. As we enter the summer break period of the off-season, we will take a look at each position on the Colts roster as compared to where it was at this time a year ago and try to project how the roster will look in September.
We start today with a look at the most important position on the roster, quarterback.
Andrew Luck Taking Important Steps in Return
After months of veiled rehabilitation and training work, Andrew Luck finally picked up a football and threw it to a teammate during mandatory Minicamp. While it is true that he didn’t throw the entire route tree and that he kept the distance of his passes relatively short, it is also true that he was putting some zip on the ball and appeared comfortable.
There are numerous reasons to feel more confident about Andrew Luck’s outlook for 2018 than the fan base felt at this time a season ago. Luck is clearly in a far superior physical condition today than he was a year ago. He has been throwing for months at this point, with a variety of different objects in a throwing program developed by two of the most respected throwing coaches in all of sports. Unlike last year, when he tried to make a comeback in October, he is not experiencing pain. Additionally, he is throwing a regulation NFL football before summer break and intends to ramp up his throwing program over this period to be prepared for a full workload in training camp.
At this time last year, no one had any idea whether Luck would be ready to throw passes in training camp. There were vague hopes that he should be able to throw at some point in camp and confidence from the team owner that he would be ready to start the season. There was no physical evidence at that point to support any of it. This year, there is evidence to support the idea that he should be ready to participate in training camp and could very well be ready to start Week 1.
Jacoby Brissett Gets a Full Off-Season to Prepare
It is widely accepted by Colts fans that Chris Ballard made the right decision to bring in a quarterback in 2017. Some will certainly criticize the timing and circumstances of when he addressed the position but there are few Scott Tolzien backers who thought he should have been the year-long starter.
While Brissett had a mixed performance in his first season in Indianapolis, he had a ridiculously difficult task ahead of him after spending the entire off-season, training camp, and preseason in New England. He had no chance to learn a new system or develop timing and chemistry with his new teammates. Rob Chudzinski installed an abbreviated playbook and attempted to ramp things up throughout the year. Early in games, when many of the plays were scripted, the offense fared reasonably well most weeks. Later in games, when the script was gone and Brissett and his teammates simply had to run the offense, things came to a screeching halt.
There is every reason to believe the Brissett is still improving his game. There is also every reason to believe that he will fare better in the Colts offense when he has a full off-season to get his head into the playbook and form better timing and relationships with his teammates. He received a ton of work during spring training activities while Luck worked his way back to throwing in practice and will likely receive a lot of work in training camp as well — including running with the first team on Thursdays while Luck rests.
Indianapolis may have a Loaded Quarterback Room
If Luck continues on his current trajectory, fans can be certain he will play football this year. There is a reasonable chance that he can even be the Week 1 starter. Similarly, no player on the roster is a real threat to Brissett’s position as primary backup. If Luck was unable to go Week 1, there is no doubt that Brissett would get the nod.
A pairing of Luck and Brissett could represent one of the top tandems at the position in the NFL. Few teams have legitimate starting quarterbacks who could lead them to a winning record or present a legitimate challenge to an opponent on a given week. Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni may have inherited two starting caliber signal callers — including one who is among the best in the league when completely healthy.
No matter how you look at it, the Colts are far better at quarterback in 2018 than they were at the same time in 2017. They are also projected to be significantly better by the time the regular season starts than they were at the start of the 2017 season.