The football world is still in shock after Andrew Luck’s retirement. The Indianapolis Colts are not dead in the water with Jacoby Brissett.
It seemed strange that the Indianapolis Colts were holding Jacoby Brissett out of the team’s third preseason game. Maybe now it makes more sense. Andrew Luck announced he would be stepping away from the game of football because he felt he was going through a cycle of injury and rehab and pain. He said this process has taken the joy out of the game.
We’ve all seen that at this point, and we’ve hit just about every angle of it. Now, let’s look forward. What can we expect out of the Colts right now? Are they even a playoff team? This could have been a true contender if we saw the Andrew Luck we saw last year. Now what are they?
Well, with the foundation that Chris Ballard has put in place as general manager, this Colts team could still make it to the postseason. In fact, they can win the AFC South. Luck was a major plus. Having a top-10 quarterback feels like a must in this league. However, it’s not impossible to win the division without one (Mitchell Trubisky won the NFC North last season).
The Colts will now go forth with Brissett. They were already preparing to likely start the season with Brissett after another bout with injuries for Luck.
Brissett replaced Luck in 2017. He wasn’t bad throwing for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. Brissett did some things right, but he was extremely safe. He took almost no chances. You can’t really survive in this league being THAT safe. This wasn’t even Alex Smith safe, this was beyond that. He had a 6.6 yards per attempt, which if he had last season would have put him 31st in the league behind Case Keenum and just ahead of Joe Flacco.
He did learn a lot in that season under center. Then, he was able to gain a season behind Luck. The one thing he really needs to learn is how to get the ball out quicker. In 2017, he was sacked a league high 52 times. Luck was sacked just 18 times last season. That shows two things. One, the offensive line is markedly better and two, Luck gave Brissett a blue print on how to keep his Colts jersey white.
Now, looking at the division itself, the Colts can still win this thing.
There are deep flaws in every team in the AFC South. The Houston Texans cannot keep Deshaun Watson upright. Enough hits will end with Watson missing weeks. The Texans look like the best team in the division on paper, but if Watson misses any time they’ll be relying on A.J. McCarron. That’s an insane drop off. Then, they just lost Zach Fulton in their last preseason game, making them even thinner on the line.
The Titans have major questions surrounding their quarterback position. Marcus Mariota didn’t even get a contract extension, and will play out his fifth-year option. We also just learned they will be without left tackle Taylor Lewan for the first four games of the season due to suspension. That isn’t good for Mariota’s chances to stay healthy. If Mariota gets hurt, they’ll be relying on Ryan Tannehill. They added Adam Humphries in the offseason, but their skill positions are extremely underwhelming, especially if Derrick Henry can’t replicate the end of last season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are putting a lot into the Nick Foles basket. They have a couple of issues on the offensive line, with right tackle a possible hole. They should have a very good defense, but as we learned last year, it might now matter. We hear good things about Leonard Fournette, but until we see it on the field it’s all just chatter. The offense has to prove it can do something to help out the defense.
The Colts have an offense stacked with T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Marlon Mack and Eric Ebron. There are decent weapons across the board, and of course that bonafide number-one receiver in Hilton. He’s at a point in his career that he can help Brissett build trust in himself through winning ball battles down the field.
This is a really good defense, as well. They ended the season in the top ten in points allowed, and they added Justin Houston off the edge. Most of the positions are on the younger side, and we expect them to play even better.
They also have a really good head coach in Frank Reich. Despite his lack of long-term head coaching experience, he might be the best in the division.
There’s a lot to still like about this Colts team, and it’s way too early to give up on them. If this team turns this surprise into motivation, it could propel them to another AFC South banner at Lucas Oil Stadium.