NFL

Andrew Luck retires: Who is Jacoby Brissett and can he fill the void?

By Sports Desk August 25, 2019

Andrew Luck's shock retirement has thrust Jacoby Brissett into the limelight for the Indianapolis Colts.

Before Luck announced his decision there had been talk of Brissett potentially being traded, though such suggestions were shut down by the Colts' front office.

Now he is the man tasked with leading Frank Reich's offense and will have an extremely tough act to follow after Luck finished his fine career with a 2018 season that saw him throw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns.

But who is Brissett, and does he have what it takes to fill the void? Here we take a look at the Colts' new starting quarterback.

 

When was Brissett drafted?

Brissett entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2016 draft after a pair of stellar college seasons at NC State. After transferring from Florida, Brissett threw for 5,268 yards, 43 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions for the Wolfpack.

How did the Colts acquire him?

The Colts sent wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots to land Brissett in a trade in September 2017, giving them another option under center with Luck's status still up in the air as he recovered from surgery on a separated shoulder.

What is his NFL experience?

Indianapolis will have been convinced to trade for Brissett partially by his performance in relief of the suspended Tom Brady and injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3 of the 2016 season. Brissett led the Patriots to a 27-0 victory and, with Brady guiding them to a Lombardi Trophy following his return, left New England with a Super Bowl ring.

He replaced Scott Tolzien in Week 1 of the 2017 season as the Colts were thrashed 46-9 by the Los Angeles Rams. From there he started the remaining 15 games and, though he only managed to lead a poor Colts team to four victories, Brissett emerged from the campaign with plenty of credit. He threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also ran for 260 yards and four touchdowns.

Can he fill the void?

"Jacoby Brissett is a winning football player in this league. Jacoby Brissett is a rare, rare leader. He is. He's a rare human being, man. That locker room loves Jacoby Brissett. They love him."

Those were the words of Colts general manager Chris Ballard following Luck's retirement, making it clear Brissett will have the faith of the locker room.

But is he good enough to ensure the Colts remain contenders post-Luck?

There is no doubt he has the arm. Brissett has no problem throwing the long ball and, when Luck was still struggling with his shoulder last year, was brought on for a late Hail Mary attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In his 2017 season, Brissett also demonstrated the ability to go through his progressions and hang tough in the pocket even as it collapsed around him.

He may not have to worry too much about the pocket disintegrating in his second go-around as starter. The Colts have invested heavily in the offensive line, in an effort to protect Luck from the injuries that ultimately brought an early end to his career, and 2018 draft picks Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith have done an excellent job of shoring things up in the trenches.

Luck was sacked only 18 times in 2018, with Brissett having suffered 52 a year earlier.

Brissett is a superior runner to Luck and the damage he can do with his legs adds another dimension to an offense featuring plenty of talent.

In addition to an improving O-Line, Brissett has the benefit of one of the better offensive minds in the game in Reich, as well as an impressive array of pass-catching options including T.Y. Hilton, tight end Eric Ebron and electric rookie Parris Campbell.

The Colts have done a tremendous job of putting Brissett in a position to succeed. For him to do so he will need to show greater consistency and accuracy.

Completion percentage is not the ultimate barometer of the latter, but Brissett completed only 58.8 per cent of his passes in 2017. Luck's percentage was under 60 only twice in his six seasons.

However, with Reich at the helm he has an ideal coach to help him realise his potential. Without Luck the Colts may not be the favourites to win the AFC South, but Brissett is capable of keeping them firmly in contention.

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