The Indianapolis Colts 2019 season officially ended Sunday evening with a second half collapse to the Jacksonville Jaguars, as the Colts lost 38-20 to their divisional foes.
Of course, the 7-9 Colts have been essentially eliminated from playoff contention for at least a few weeks, so it was a meaningless matchup between two teams “playing for pride” or perhaps, losing for better draft position—if we’re talking long-term franchise interests.
[As a result of the loss, the Colts went from picking #18 in the first round of the draft entering the day to #13 in their defeat—which is not insignificant.].
The biggest question for the Colts this upcoming New Year is what to do at starting quarterback.
Let me say this up front, incumbent starter Jacoby Brissett was thrust into the starter’s job under very difficult circumstances. Even though he practiced as the starter during all of this past year’s training camp—it was only because of injury, as Andrew Luck was expected to rightfully assume the starter’s job again as soon as he was healthy to start the season.
However, Luck shocked the world by retiring just two weeks before the regular season started, and it was now Brissett’s job—for better or worse.
Under Brissett, the Colts started out 5-2—including an impressive road win against the Kansas City Chiefs, and there was talk that the Colts were not only a playoff team, but a potential contender for homefield advantage as one of the AFC’s top two seeds.
Instead, as the Colts roster was ravaged by a number of injuries—including to Brissett, the Colts would lose 7 of their next 9 games and the playoffs became an afterthought.
Brissett is not solely to blame for the Colts losing skid, but he plays the most important position in the sport, and by upgrading his position, the Colts have the chance to improve significantly—in ways that other positions simply cannot elevate the rest of the talent level of the roster.
After 30 starts for the Colts though, there’s now a large enough sample size to form a fair, objective evaluation of Brissett—there probably was even a lot sooner.
After all, there were “cracks in the armor” even during Brissett and the Colts early season success—where he at times, resembled more of a game manager than elite playmaker—but a strong running game and defense—and the Colts winning games, diverted any criticism.
Now though, it’s fairly clear.
Brissett is good enough to compete with, maybe finish 7-9 to 9-7 with, but probably not good enough to win a Super Bowl with—unless there’s an elite defense backing him up.
If he’s not the long-term answer for the Colts at quarterback—to lead them to hoisting a Lombardi Trophy, then they’re just wasting time in finding a true successor to Luck.
Why delay the inevitable?
Sure, Brissett has played dinged up—battling injury and with a receiving corps that often has resembled a preseason lineup, but it’s the other things that stand out.
The failure to make routine throws to open receivers.
The failure to progress through reads and in turn, lock on receivers.
The failure to show the requisite touch on throws.
The tendency to hold onto the football instead of risking any open throws downfield.
For perspective, Brissett failed to surpass 165 passing yards in 5 of the Colts last 7 games. He’s thrown for 4 passing touchdowns and 3 interceptions during that same span, failing to eclipse a passer rating of 77.0 in 6 of those same 7 games.
Fortunately though, the Colts are in an opportunistic position to potentially upgrade at starting quarterback long-term this offseason.
As noted, they now have the #13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, as well as the Redskins early 2nd round draft pick (#34) and their own pick (#45)—for potential trade-up ammunition to get the top quarterback they could very well covet.
That puts them well in “striking distance” for drafting a top quarterback prospect (non-Joe Burrow) such as Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Washington’s Jacob Eason, or Utah State’s Jordan Love among others—and maybe even in the very rare chance Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa shockingly falls.
With Brissett still under contract for another year, the Colts have the luxury of having a top rookie quarterback develop behind him at their own pace before fully taking over the starting reins either some time in 2020 or even a season after.
It’s a New Year’s resolution that simply should happen for the Colts—especially if they’re serious about contending for a Super Bowl in the near future.