Perhaps the most shocking news of the NFL’s past decade surfaced yesterday when former #1 overall pick and 2018 Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck retired at the age of 29. It left the entire NFL in shock, including media, fans, and the players themselves.
It is absolutely horrible to see injuries causing such a talented player to leave the game in his prime. However, Andrew Luck is an extremely smart, kind, and likable person, so I expect that he’ll find happiness in his post-NFL life. Now we need to switch gears.
Jacoby Brissett, the former Patriot and North Carolina State- Wolfpack? Wolf??, is the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. To quote Darren Rovell, “I feel bad for our country. But this is tremendous content.” I think this monstrosity of a quote (formerly referring to the election of Donald Trump) relates to Brissett’s upcoming season for a number of reasons. Primarily, Brissett will face an unprecedented amount of adversity for someone who has always just been a backup quarterback. Every single throw and decision he makes this year will be put under a microscope. He’ll be looked at through the lens of ‘What Would Andrew Luck have done?’. To add to this attention, it has been an unreasonably active offseason for Brissett, as his weird quasi-philosophical tweets and preseason hype articles have already put him into the national spotlight.
Just six days ago, Bob Kravitz of The Athletic wrote an extensive piece on the relationship between Colts’ Head Coach Frank Reich and Jacoby Brissett. Given the events of the past 24 hours, the timing of that article is strange and unbelievably good. I’m not into conspiracies, but isn’t it a little weird that less than a week before an NFL team’s indisputable franchise quarterback retired, a piece is written about his backup’s ability to be a starting quarterback? There are plenty of quotes from this article that reinforce the Colts organization’s confidence in Brissett.
“The Colts have said it innumerable times: They believe Brissett is a top-20 quarterback. In other words, a quarterback capable of starting and winning.” (Bob Kravitz, The Athletic)
““Any time anybody asks me (what qualities a starting quarterback needs), I always say the same thing: mental and physical toughness,”[Frank] Reich said. “And Jacoby is a 10 out of 10 there.””(The Athletic)
I feel like including some of Jacoby Brissett’s more notable stats would serve this piece well. In his 17 career games as a starting quarterback, his record is 5-12. Quarterback wins are a bad stat to measure quarterback efficiency, but in those starts, his defense gave up an average of 22 points per game, which would’ve been good for the NFL’s 14th ranked scoring defense last season. In his defense, though, (defense, nice one) he was sacked 52 times over 15 1/2 games in his 2017 season. He led the league in times sacked that year, although he ranked 6th in Time to Throw, according to NFL’s next-gen stats. Over his career, he has posted a subpar 59% completion percentage per Pro Football Reference.
There is one last fold to Brissett’s situation that raises the stakes even higher: He will be a free agent after this season. So, in review. Brissett is now for the first time ever, the bonafide starter for an NFL franchise. I almost forgot to mention, this franchise had Super Bowl hopes heading into this season, and everyone (especially their fans) was aware of this. So in this first year of being a 16-game starter, he’s playing for his second contract, the Super Bowl, and he’s playing to get out of Andrew Luck’s shadow. I have some confidence in Brissett, he has as good of a coach/GM combo as anyone in the league (except for Tom Brady), he has quality skill-position players in T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack, Eric Ebron, and Parris Campbell, and he has plenty of talent himself. The spotlight will be on Jacoby Brissett this year, and I cannot wait to see what he does with it.