Colts’ notebook: Nothing changes as Brissett works behind Luck
WESTFIELD, Ind. – It would be understandable if Jacoby Brissett had trouble stuffing an oversized head into his helmet.
Over the past few days, praise hasn’t flowed in his direction as much as it has come in waves.
This from coach Frank Reich: “I just cannot emphasize enough how fortunate we are to have Jacoby. I think this guy’s one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the NFL, and we have two of them on this team.’’
And this from offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni: “I just think we definitely have a top-20 quarterback. Obviously there’s 12 teams trying to get that. It’s a huge luxury to have that.’’
Finally, the pièce de résistance from owner Jim Irsay: “All of a sudden we have the best backup quarterback in football. I don’t know if we’d take a 1 for him right now. We think he’s that good.’’
Brissett’s status among his quarterbacking brethren is open for debate. And we believe general manager Chris Ballard might jump at the chance of getting a first-round pick for him.
Even so, the Colts’ support for and belief in Brissett is undeniable.
It’s just that Brissett isn’t paying much attention to the hype.
“It means a lot,’’ he said Monday, “but I know I’ve got to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do. That’s my main focus.’’
Brissett heads into his second season with the Colts, and faces an entirely different role. On Sept. 2 and with Andrew Luck’s rehab lagging, Ballard acquired Brissett in a trade with New England. It cost him 2016 first-round pick wideout Phillip Dorsett, but added a viable quarterback to the roster.
Eight days later, Brissett replaced ineffective Scott Tolzien in the fourth quarter of a 46-9 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Fifteen days later, he started against the Arizona Cardinals.
In that whirlwind ’17 and without benefit of an offseason to learn the playbook, Brissett passed for 3,098 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The Colts finished 4-12, but Brissett kept them relevant and, in most games, competitive. They lost seven games despite having a halftime lead.
Now, that he’s working as Luck’s backup, Brissett isn’t simply going through the motions.
“Nothing changes,’’ he insisted. “I go out there and compete against (Luck). Make each other better and go out there and try to do the best I can when I’m out there.
“There’s no such thing as going out and practicing to be the No. 2.’’
Brissett admitted he’s much more comfortable after having had an entire offseason to digest the playbook and work with his teammates. There have been a few wayward passes during practice, but overall he’s thrown with accuracy and top-end velocity.
“More (comfortable) than a day before the first game (last season), right?’’ Brissett replied with a smile. “Yeah, I’m a lot more comfortable with this.’’
According to Sirianni, there’s a tangible byproduct of having Brissett work with the No. 2 offense.
“That’s going to help when the 2s go in,’’ he said. “That’s going to help the receivers 2s, the offensive line 2s, the running back No. 2s.
“At every position he’s going to help elevate their game, probably get some guys on the team because of it.’’
What’s in a jersey?
Sirianni spent several minutes following Monday’s practice playing pitch-and-catch with young son Jacob, who was wearing a No. 12 Andrew Luck jersey.
“He has other jerseys, but all are 12s,’’ Sirianni said. “It’s hard to find other ones. I don’t know where they sell them. I’m not spending big money for it.’’
He was informed the Colts Pro Shop at Lucas Oil Stadium offers a nice variety.
“Those are big-money ones,’’ Sirianni said. “I want the Walmart ones.’’
Then go to Walmart.
“They don’t have them there, I’ve looked.’’
Players have noticed Jacob is wearing Luck-exclusive jerseys.
“Trust me, the players are like, ‘What’s going on? Why’s he only wearing Andrew’s jersey?’’’ Sirianni said.
Even at an early age, Jacob’s choice seems spot-on.
“That’s a good pick, right?’’ Sirianni said with a smile.
More than a dozen players were held out of Monday’s practice.
The list included: offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), Denzelle Good (undisclosed) and Tyreek Burwell (undisclosed); tight end Jack Doyle (personal reason); guard Matt Slauson (vet day off); defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (foot); wideout Reece Fountain (knee); linebackers John Simon (groin) and Kemoko Turay (knee); running back Josh Ferguson (undisclosed) and defensive end Chris McCain (ankle).
Warren Central H.S. product Deyshawn Bond, who has been getting more work as Ryan Kelly’s backup at center, went through drills early, but then exited with a concussion. He’s in the NFL’s concussion protocol.