Indianapolis Colts

Can the Colts still make the playoffs without Andrew Luck?

After dealing with several serious injuries in his career, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to retire. But as unlikely as it seems, his team could still make the postseason without him.

For any other team in the NFL, the retirement of a top 10 quarterback would be just about impossible to recover from. Yet even though Andrew Luck is one of the most talented passers in the game, the Indianapolis Colts can still make the playoffs in 2019 without the former No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford.

That’s because the Colts have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL in Jacoby Brissett, who can match Luck in the physical tools department. At 6’4″, 238 pounds, Brissett cuts an imposing figure at the quarterback position, just like Luck did. And like Luck, Brissett has both a cannon arm and the ability to make things happen with his legs, seeing how he once scored four rushing touchdowns in a season in 2017.

Brissett has plenty of experience for a young backup, as he tossed 469 passes in 16 appearances for the Colts in 2017 in Luck’s stead. While the Colts had one of the NFL’s worst offenses that season and Brissett averaged under 200 passing yards per game, the former N.C. State standout has undeniably made strides since then.

Just look at what Brissett has done in the preseason this year. The 26-year-old quarterback has impressed so many teams around the league that the Seattle Seahawks even reportedly offered a second-round pick for Brissett, in spite of the fact that they already have a top five player at the position in Russell Wilson.

On top of that, the Colts are much better literally everywhere else than they were in 2017. Frank Reich is a massive coaching upgrade who helped orchestrate the Colts playoff push in 2018, and the offense finally has a stable of weapons at the skill positions in Marlon Mack, TY Hilton, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Devin Funchess, and Offensive Rookie of the Year sleeper Parris Campbell.

Defensively, the Colts are solid, too, as they sneaked into the top 10 in points allowed last year. With veteran edge rusher Justin Houston and second-round cornerback Rock Ya-Sin joining the likes of centerfielding safety Malik Hooker, underrated corner Pierre Desir, disruptive defensive lineman Denico Autry, and tackling machine Darius Leonard, the Colts defense has nowhere to go but up.

It’s hard to expect Brissett to be as good as Luck, who was one of the best quarterbacks in the league last season after shaking off the rust at the start of the season due to a previous shoulder injury. But Brissett’s supporting cast is better than the one Luck had in 2018, and the defense behind him could repeat as a top 10 unit in 2019.

Next: Andrew Luck stuns Colts with retirement

Given how much Brissett has seemed to improve, the Colts are still sleepers to sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. The competition from the AFC North will be stiffer, and either the Los Angeles Chargers or Kansas City Chiefs will once again sew up one wild card spot. But the AFC South remains a division the Colts can be competitive in, especially if Nick Foles falters or the Texans have a letdown season with a poor offensive line and organizational dysfunction.

Luck’s retirement undoubtedly hurts the Colts chances of getting back to the playoffs, yet they have to be considered a dangerous team in the AFC. Brissett has shown flashes of greatness and has the mental and physical traits to be one of the conference’s better passers. A lot hinges on Brissett, but NFL fans shouldn’t count out his chances of leading the Colts to another surprisingly strong campaign.

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