Coming up just short.
That seemed to be the theme of Week 1 for the Indianapolis Colts, whether it be on the scoreboard, special teams, or even in the play-calling. In Jacoby Brissett’s 1st game since Andrew Luck’s retirement, Frank Reich kept things short and simple. But see, just because the team lost doesn’t mean the game plan wasn’t the right choice.
Why the Game Plan was Right
One of the main concerns for Jacoby Brissett coming into this season was how he’d handle pressure. I wrote about some of those concerns last week.
“The key to this week - and this season - is ultimately Jacoby Brissett. We know he’s not Andrew Luck, but with the other strengths currently on the roster, that’s okay. To make a Super Bowl run he needs to just be good, not necessarily great. He has shown pretty much all the signs of being able to do that, but he still needs major improvement in regards to dealing with pressure and making quicker decisions. Facing a strong Bolts pass rush Saturday will be a great test to see how far he’s come along.
In his 2017 season (via PFF), Brissett took an average of 2.97 seconds to throw, the 5th highest rate amongst all QB’s and took the most sacks (47) on dropbacks that took over 2.6 seconds. His red-zone sack rate was also an abysmal 23.3 percent, which is one of the worst of all time in this regard.
Obviously, this is a small sample size and Frank Reich is sure to help fix some of these issues, but it’s worrisome nonetheless. Joey Bosa and company will be ready to play, and if Indy doesn’t make things quick and easy on Brissett, the Chargers D-Line could end up dominating.”
Great design by Indy here on 3rd and 1.— Carter Donnick (@CDonScouting) September 10, 2019
- 13 personnel with a WR at the bottom of the screen.
- Beautiful strong side fake to make #58 get caught in traffic.
- Doyle sneaks out and runs an underneath crosser.
- Ebron crosses overtop and Cain clears space to open up the field. pic.twitter.com/brfek4IVCv
Indy must’ve had some of those same concerns because they kept things quick and simple for Brissett, something much needed for a player who has struggled with time-consuming plays in the past. Registering 6.19 air yards per pass (26th in the league), the Colts’ passing attack posted modest numbers, getting the ball out of Brissett’s hands and to their play makers as quick as possible.
For large portions of the game, Brissett was simply a facilitator, but that’s what the Colts needed him to do. Excelling after the catch, the Colts weapons did major damage, as that 6.19 air yards per pass attempt bumped up to a whole 7.04 average yards per pass play. That was good for 18th in the league, 8 spots higher than their average air yards per pass.
T.Y. Hilton and company did their jobs, and Frank Reich’s scheming allowed for easy completions and confident reads. Brissett finished the week with a sparkling 77.8 completion percentage, providing the perfect complement to a strong run game. Sure, they lost, but Brissett nor the Offensive production was the reason why.
It’s not like attempting long passes has to be a requirement for passing success either, with Week 1 around the rest of the league showing just that. Patrick Mahomes absolutely shredded Jacksonville and finished with 5.19 air yards per pass, good for 29th in the league. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick topped the league with a pristine 13.86 air yards per pass, but his team was wiped out of the stadium against Baltimore.
Ultimately, there were several reasons Indy didn’t win this game, but don’t put the blame on the play-calling.