(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
Critics jumped all over his second-half performance.
Jacoby Brissett is 11- 21 in two seasons as the colts starting QB in the last 2 of 3 years(2017, 2019) with that said our last winning season was in 2018, Colts went 10-6 with Luck as Starter and Brissett as Backup.
— Colts_20 (@w_wilson20) February 24, 2020
Brissett threw only four touchdowns over his last eight games and had a QBR of 45 over that stretch.
He barely completed half his pass attempts over the last four games.
Indianapolis went 2-6 to end the season short of the playoffs at 7-9.
Detractors lament his unexpected last-minute promotion after Andrew Luck´s retirement.
They say his performance proves he is no more than a backup passer.
Rumors of first-round draft picks and free-agent replacements swirl around Lucas Oil Stadium.
The buzz in Indianapolis is all about Philip Rivers coming to the Colts in free agency. General manager Chris Ballard hasn't tipped his hand as far as the team's plans at the position and did praise incumbent Jacoby Brissett in a presser this week sources tell me
— John DePriest (@johndepriest790) February 28, 2020
But Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is having none of it.
#Colts LB Darius Leonard (38:05) was asked if he’s thought about Philip Rivers being his QB in 2020? The answer on RapSheet + Friends: “No. Why would I do something like that? I believe in Jacoby (Brissett).” Hear Leonard, #LSU WR @JJettas2 & more: https://t.co/Wp9xco8R8U
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2020
Leonard Pushes Back on Forgetful Critics
At one point last season, Indianapolis was 5-2 with Brissett at the helm.
He sported a 65% completion rate with 14 touchdowns against 3 interceptions over 7 games.
Brissett was just one week removed fro an AFC Offensive Player of the Week performance heading into Week 8.
— Javier Alcalá (@Javinho71) October 23, 2019
He complete 4 of his first 5 passes in Pittsburgh when he went down with a knee injury.
Brissett made it back onto the field for a Week 9 matchup against Jacksonville.
Indy won that game despite Brissett throwing for under 150 yards.
Four losses piled up after that, including the next to Houston with an even poorer statistical game.
Put in Chad Kelly! I can’t take the Jacoby Brissett show anymore in 2019.
— Pete Vayo (@PVayo4) December 30, 2019
Brissett managed to throw for almost 600 yards over the next two weeks.
Tennessee and Tampa Bay each put up over 30 points and Brissett was unable to outscore either.
Indianapolis managed a big Week 16 win over Carolina, but Brissett was not a weapon.
Leonard feels Brissett´s knee might have played a role down the stretch.
But the quarterback wasn´t the only Colt who was hurt.
Coach Reich Won´t Blame Injuries, but…
Indianapolis coaching staff and the players won´t blame injuries for their 7-9 finish.
Instead, they´ll offer the company line that injuries are part of the game and mention the next man up.
But the fact is Indianapolis ended the 2019 season with a banged-up TY Hilton, a promising rookie in Zach Pascal, and four receivers signed during the season.
Colts GM Chris Ballard on Jacoby Brissett and possibly drafting a QB: “Even when Andrew was our quarterback, we still studied the quarterback position.”
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) February 25, 2020
Neither Hilton nor Pascal managed to catch 50 passes, although they led the team in receptions.
The other receivers included three wideouts signed off the practice squad and Dontrelle Inman, signed off waivers in December.
Devin Funchess, Chester Rodgers, and Parris Campbell landed on injured reserve, as did tight end Eric Ebron.
Marlon Mack missed several games, too, adding to Brissett´s challenge.
That is the rationale Darius Leonard uses when defending Brissett.
“I believe in Jacoby,” Leonard told NFL Network´s Ian Rappaport. Jacoby is a pretty good quarterback and he showed that early in the season when he had everyone healthy. You can look at any quarterback, when your WRs go down, of course, your numbers go down. But when he had everybody he went 5-2.”
When asked if Brissett was more like the Colts´first-half quarterback than the Brissett we saw in the second half, Leonard doubled down.
“Absolutely. I’ve spent two seasons in Indy and with Jacoby being a backup, I’ve faced him day in and day out so I know exactly what type of quarterback he is. I know exactly what type of leader he is.”
Should Indianapolis Give Brissett the Starting Nod in 2020?
Darius Leonard is a good teammate, one that would never throw anyone under the bus.
He might be correct about Brissett´s true abilities being on display over the first 7 games.
However, not everything about those games indicates Brissett is a future franchise quarterback.
Ballard on Jacoby Brissett: “Right now, I'll say Jacoby is our starting quarterback.”
Irsay on Brissett: “We’re really opened minded. There’s a lot of ways this could turn. But right now, Jacoby is the starter."
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) February 24, 2020
Even when he was winning, Brissett was not a prolific passer.
Be barely averaged 220 yards per game during his 5-2 stretch.
He sported a good completion rate that awarded him with a 99.3 passer rating.
But Brissett´s average depth of target was under 8 yards, good for 21st in the NFL.
His receivers gifted Brissett with an 11th-best 5.5 yards after the catch, helping the quarterback´s rating.
2018-19 Andrew Luck big-time throw percentage = 5.0% (10th)
2019-20 Jacoby Brissett big-time throw percentage = 2.3% (38th)#Colts offensive ceiling is significantly lowered with a QB who won’t take risks. Was apparent in play-calling from Reich all throughout last season. pic.twitter.com/Oq1kJEyHHa
— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) February 23, 2020
Indianapolis rarely threw the ball downfield.
Brissett´s rate of passes thrown over 20 yards ranked 29th in the 32-team league after Week 7.
His statistical history is one of a game manager, not a franchise quarterback.
Jacoby Brissett´s second half might not be the reason quarterback rumors are swirling at Lucas Field.