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The themes of “next man up” and “one player’s injury is another’s opportunity” are a permanent part of the fabric of the philosophy of team sports. While some players are more irreplaceable than others, the function of and belief in “team” prevails even when you lose a 29-year-old player of Andrew Luck’s stature.
While the sports world has already given up on the Indianapolis Colts following Luck’s abrupt retirement from the game after just seven seasons, there are reputable football insiders who feel that talented backup Jacoby Brissett will “have a monster year” and get the Colts to the playoffs.
Jacoby Brissett is ready for this moment. When he was still at Dwyer high school he told me “I’ll be a starting QB in the NFL one day and I won’t be satisfied with anything else”. I’ll never forget it. He’s waited his whole life for this opportunity. #Colts
— Laura Rutledge (@LauraRutledge) August 25, 2019
“I still think (the Colts) without a doubt can be a playoff team,” ESPN football analyst Louis Riddick said on Monday. “Jacoby is coming into a situation now that for one, he has the benefit of the thing Andrew Luck didn’t have until last year and that’s protection. They’ve really invested a lot of capital into improving. They have three first-rounders and second-rounder on the offensive line’s starting five. That’s pretty darn good.”
“No.2, he’s familiar with a system now whereas in 2017 (when Luck go hurt) he had to learn it on the fly with no protection and really one critical weapon on the outside with TY Hilton,” Riddick added.
For The Culture
Culturally speaking, this is also a win. Brissett joins Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals), Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens), Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Bucs) Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers), DeShaun Watson (Houston Texans), Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) as the ninth Black starting QB among the NFL’s 32 teams.
The sad irony in this situation is that the Colts offensive line that has been so tattered and underwhelming for years and contributed to Luck’s early departure from the game, is now a formidable group, capable of facilitating safe offensive performances for their quarterback.
Brissett will be the beneficiary of the very O-line that poisoned Luck’s career. On the flip side, destiny is a bitch and maybe Brissett can ease the pain of Luck’s departure by taking his game to the next level in his fourth season.
This isn’t the first time Brissett, an unheralded third-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2016, has replaced a living legend at QB.
Back in 2016, as a Patriots third-string rookie QB, Brissette briefly filled in for Tom Brady, playing in three games, completing 61.8 percent of his passes and tallying 400 yards through the air. He flashed some potential and in 2017 was thrust into a starting role when he took over for Luck who was injured at the time.
According to NFL.com, “Brissett had been with the team for a week when he took over the Colts‘ starting quarterback job late in the 2017 opener. He was learning then-coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s offense on the fly, playing behind a porous offensive line for a defensive-minded coach who coached one of football’s worst defenses. It predictably didn’t go well for the 4-12 Colts, but Brissett displayed professionalism, toughness, and promise in a campaign that included 13 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 6.6 yards per attempt” and over 3,000 yards passing.
Jacoby Brissett Is The Future
Brissett’s 2017 output wasn’t bad for a young QB, but definitely not on par with Andrew Luck at his best. Therefore, despite Riddick’s optimism, Brissett still has a legion of critics.
“He wasn’t set up for success then, Riddick reasoned. “He is set up for it now. (Jacoby) has the weapons with the addition of Paris Campbell, a second-round pick out of Ohio State…he’s got more guys on the outside that can stretch the field vertically.”
“That’s one of Jacoby’s strengths,” Riddick continued, “ He’s highly intelligent and motivated and very diligent in terms of how he approaches his work. Good mobility in the pocket. A howitzer for an arm and great work ethic.
What’s not to like about him?”
Even Luck expressed full confidence in Brissett.
I love Andrew Luck's honestly here, talking about Jacoby Brissett.
He is as genuine of a person to ever play in the NFLpic.twitter.com/x6BtCf744R
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 25, 2019
Brissett has the chance of a lifetime. Having Luck’s support helps, but the pressure is going to be heavy. When things don’t go right, everyone will moan and groan over Luck’s retirement.
If Brissett leads the Colts into the playoffs, the lasting effects of Luck’s departure will be short-lived. He will also set himself up for a huge contract in 2020 free agency. It’s all up to Jacoby. The next man up.