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INDIANAPOLIS – When the decision makers of the Indianapolis Colts toss out strengths for Jacoby Brissett, you won’t hear them immediately complimenting the throwing ability of their starting quarterback.
Those are the most frequent traits used to describe Brissett.
It makes sense though.
For one, Brissett showed tremendous ability this past season in the areas listed above.
But throwing the football, and finding consistent success in the passing game, was a clear issue.
Among the NFL quarterbacks that threw at least 50 passes in 2019, Brissett was particularly poor when it came to completion percentage (60.9 percent, which ranked 36 out of 53 guys) and yards per attempt (6.58 YPA, which ranked 39 out of 53 guys).
Both of those are key metrics in the eyes of Frank Reich.
When Reich looks at places Brissett did make strides this past season, the head coach points to a pair of pre-snap aspects.
“From a protection standpoint, I challenged Jacoby last year in the offseason that he needed to become a master and an expert at the protection world,” Reich said near the end of the 2019 season. “He has done that.
“The other area that we challenged him on is when you are going to do what we do in our system, as a quarterback, you have to be a master in the run game. You run a one-back offense and you’ve got force issues, you have to be able to get us in and out of plays. There is going to be five or seven plays a game that we need you to change based on what we see. We are going to help you with that and here is what we’re seeing, but he has done a very good job of that. I think that has been a significant improvement.”
What about throwing?
“It has been solid,” the head coach says. “I am a perfectionist. (Brissett) is a perfectionist. I am going to grade myself hard and I am always going to be most especially hard on the quarterback. Can we be better throwing the ball? Yes, but that is not just him. That is us coaching it better, scheming it better, running better routes, blocking better and him throwing it better. If we all get one percent better than that equates to a dynamic passing game.”
Brissett, who did deal with some attrition at the skill positions as the season moved along, finished 2019 with the following numbers:
-272-of-447 (60.9 percent)
-88.0 passer rating
A definite positive from Brissett in 2019 was his ability at protecting the football. His INT percentage of just 1.34 percent was one of the best in the NFL.
But the lack of passing game production, against one of the easier pass defense schedules, still is squarely on the minds of Reich and Chris Ballard.
“Jacoby did some good things,” Ballard says. “As a whole, not just the quarterback position, but our passing game has to improve, unequivocally. That has to get better. You have to be able throw the football to win in this league.”
While the present numbers do not paint the prettiest of pictures, the Colts still believe there’s potential in Brissett.
“He’s a young quarterback that’s played two seasons,” Ballard adds. “I’m taking that one out in ‘17 when he got the crap beat out of him. This is really his first season. I know we want guys to come in and light the league up right away. But sometimes they have to go through it and continue to rep it and see it. One or two years does not make a successful quarterback in this league. I think you can just look at the history of the position. Some guys have early struggles.
“Let’s not forget, he finished the season 18 (TD) and 6 (INT). It wasn’t a total wash away like people are trying to make it. He had a good start, good first half of the season. And did some good things in the second half of the season, too. We just need more consistency out of him. He knows that. One thing about Jacoby that I like, he’s honest with himself about things he needs to fix and work on. That’s what makes him pretty cool to be around.”