1) Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts: Chris Ballard and Frank Reich might’ve replaced Brissett as the Colts’ starter, but don’t let his demotion diminish his performance and potential as a player. Prior to suffering an MCL injury midway through last season, Brissett was playing at a high level with a 14:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio on a team devoid of playmakers on the perimeter beyond T.Y. Hilton. Although Brissett’s play slipped down the stretch, he has more than enough game to chalk up Ws as a spot starter surrounded by enough playmakers to enable him to manage the game.
Despite an offseason demotion in favor of prized veteran free agent Philip Rivers as the Colts new starter, it’s easy to forget that Brissett still has value as one of the league’s top backup quarterbacks.
The 27 year old big bodied quarterback completed 272 of 447 passing attempts (60.9%) for 2,942 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a passer rating of 88.0 during 15 starts this past season. He also ran for 228 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
Brissett had an impressive start to 2019, having thrown for 14 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions in his first 6 starts. However, the wheels began to come off soon thereafter—which was exacerbated by an MCL injury suffered near the midpoint of the season.
Yes, Brissett has his shortcomings regarding his reluctancy to take chances, anticipate throws, and push the ball downfield—electing to hold onto the football for far too long like a lot of developing quarterbacks instead.
That being said, last season, he showed a lot of poise during an abrupt change at quarterback, made some big time plays at times, mitigated turnovers, and kept the Colts generally competitive more often than not.
That’s all one can really ask for from a top backup quarterback: the ability to give a team a fighter’s chance to win almost any game and keep their squad around .500 during potential spot starts.
Despite having a significant cap hit of $21.3 million in 2020, all indications are that the Colts plan on keeping Brissett as their primary backup quarterback for now. General manager Chris Ballard values his potential play in emergency relief of Rivers, as well as his leadership and presence in their quarterback room—which now includes rookie Jacob Eason.
Even though Rivers has played 17 NFL seasons—including a few under Colts head coach Frank Reich as a Bolts offensive coordinator, Brissett has the most firsthand knowledge and familiarity of any Indianapolis quarterback of Reich’s current offensive system—having spent the last two seasons in it. He should prove to be a valuable soundboard this year.
It’s worth noting that while a 38 year old quarterback like Rivers is probably more susceptible to injury given his advanced football age, he’s also made 224 consecutive starts—meaning the longtime Charger has been a modern day NFL ironman behind center.
In the last year of his Colts contract, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for Brissett after this season—who will likely want a clearer shot at a starter’s gig elsewhere. However, right now, Indianapolis has one of the best insurance policies at quarterback in all of football—even if it’s currently coming at a premium cost.