INDIANAPOLIS – It was the closest the Colts would get to criticizing Jacoby Brissett in a specific manner this offseason.
“When we look at some of the stats to get feedback on how we are producing, there are a lot of areas for improvement starting with the passing game,” Frank Reich said. “We need to get more production on the offensive side of the ball, big plays and we need to be a higher percentage.”
The lack of big plays in the passing game was a sore, sore eye on Brissett and the offense last season.
Take a look at the following 2019 numbers of a Brissett-led Colts offense:
- 30th in passing offense (194.2 yards per game)
- 29th in completion percentage (59.8 percent)
- 28th in yards per pass attempt (6.5 YPA)
- 30th in pass plays of at least 20 yards (38 plays)
So, insert Philip Rivers on a 1-year contract.
Rivers put up these numbers with the Chargers last season:
- 6th in passing offense (276.6 yards per game)
- 8th in completion percentage (66.0 percent)
- 9th in yards per pass attempt (7.8 YPA)
- 10th in pass plays of at least 20 yards (57 plays)
Now, the skill group Brissett was working with, compared to Rivers, was drastically different.
But clearly the Colts saw enough from Brissett to believe that they could upgrade at quarterback and get more out of their passing offense. Will it be a jump to the top-10? That’s really premature to say, but even a little improvement from the basement status in 2019 could lend to a playoff-caliber team this fall.
Rivers will take more chances down the field and give his pass catchers a higher frequency of opportunities with 50/50 balls.
Yards after catch was an issue for the Colts throughout 2019.
Well, a quicker rhythm passing game with Rivers’ high level of intelligence in knowing where to go with the ball earlier in plays is something the Colts have to turn to as they seek out more production through the air.
Outside of what the Colts think Rivers can do to ignite the passing game, there’s the intangible inside the locker room that they hope someone with 224 straight starts brings.
“We need a little more friction,” Ballard said of the key message to his team following the end to a 7-9 campaign. “The team runs it. It does. They run it. Coaches, we’re going to give you direction, we’re going to give you where you need to go, but the locker room, we’re going to go as they go. And there’s got to be a little more friction within it and pure accountability, and they have to be willing to challenge each other. They do, to an extent. They practice hard, but there’s got to be a little bit more challenging aspect to each other, that when things aren’t going right, when things aren’t getting done the right way, they’ve got to be able to challenge each other to do it the right way.”
Handing out $25 million on a one-year deal raises a lot of eyebrows, inside and outside of the locker room.
The Colts are hoping it raises the team’s offensive rankings when it comes to throwing the football in 2020.