The City of Indianapolis was devastated on Saturday when news broke that superstar quarterback Andrew Luck was retiring from the NFL. Luck had been seen as a savior of the city for the last 6 years after pulled the Colts out of their post-Manning depression.
But now the keys are being turned over once again to Jacoby Brissett. Brissett started 15 games in 2017 after Luck suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. The Colts struggled with Jacoby at the helm, winning only 4 games. Brissett himself struggled, completing only 58% of his passes for only 6.6 YPA. Those are not stellar numbers for a starting quarterback. So how on Earth can the Colts hope to win with a below average passer under center?
Look to Baltimore.
Baltimore was faced with a similar conundrum last season after Joe Flacco injured, forcing Lamar Jackson into action. Raven’s coach John Harbaugh recognized that Jackson was not ready to win games with his arm so the team entirely rebuilt their offense on the fly around Jackson’s legs. The result was a 6-1 regular season record and a division crown.
On paper, Jackson and Brissett are very similar. Both complete around 58% of their passes. Jackson had a bit higher yards per attempt and yards per catch (7.1 and 12.1) than Brissett (6.6 and 11.2), but neither are built to throw the ball. Brissett can run the ball well, averaging 4.1 yards per carry in 2017 as a full time starter, but Indy only ran him 63 times, or about 4 times per game. Those numbers are criminally underutilizing Brissett’s best asset.
If Indianapolis wants to win this year (and they certainly can), they need to shift to a run first offense. Ironically, they already have the tools to succeed doing so. They have one of the strongest run blocking offensive lines, anchored by Pro-Bowl guard Quenton Nelson. Running back Marlon Mack is an elusive back who was already an expert favorite to break out this season. Add in Brissett’s legs with a few read-option and RPO concepts, and this team can still contend for the division.
The haters will point to Lamar’s struggles in the playoff game last season, but as always the haters are wrong. As much as Jackson’s passing struggled, ball security was ultimately what sank the Ravens. Jackson seemingly fumbled every drive of first half against the Chargers. Jackson had 12 fumbles in the regular season in 7 starts while Brissett only had 8 in 15 starts. Honestly, 8 fumbles is a very solid total for a quarterback who took 52 (!!!) sacks.
This Colts team is too talented to throw in the towel. You can’t #TankForTua with that defense. This team needs to go all in and the best way to do so is to run Brissett.
Photo: SB Nation