INDIANAPOLIS — Jacoby Brissett’s 1-yard touchdown pass from Sunday deserves to be a staple of the national TV highlight packages this week.
It was an elite short-yardage play that showed off the 26-year-old’s greatest strength — his ultra competitiveness.
Brissett quite simply refused to let the play die. He initially looked to the left flat, but the Jacksonville Jaguars had the route covered. Then he tried to run up the middle, but that lane was clogged.
So he rolled to his right and bought time. As the final grains of sand threatened to slip through the hourglass, he fit the ball into a tight window where wide receiver Marcus Johnson caught it in the corner of the end zone.
Tough. Smart. Unflappable.
Those are the words I hear most often to describe Brissett, along with another at the top of the list:
There’s been an ongoing debate on social media about how much credit the quarterback deserves for the Indianapolis Colts’ play this season.
Like most arguments in our deeply divided society it’s been loud, passionate and ultimately pointless. It makes for fun copy and can no doubt fill up comment sections; but no matter which side of the debate you come down on, the truth is the polls remain open in far too many precincts to declare a winner.
It’s a fact Indianapolis is 6-2 in games Brissett has finished this season, and that record would be 7-1 with a little more accuracy from kicker Adam Vinatieri. It’s also a fact this offense is at its best when the offensive line and running game lead the charge and the quarterback mostly gets out of the way.
In addition to that sensational touchdown pass, Brissett made a pair of key throws on the Colts’ first scoring drive. One was a bullet to Zach Pascal on second down to jumpstart the march. The other was a third-down laser to Chester Rogers to keep the series alive.
Without those throws, Indianapolis wouldn’t have tied the game at 7-7 before the end of the first period, and everything that followed would have played out differently.
But the Jaguars game was more about what Brissett didn’t do. With the timely help of right guard Mark Glowinski, he avoided the big game-changing turnover backup Brian Hoyer fell victim to in the previous two weeks.
There is still a lot of room for improvement.
Brissett can be slow to move off the first target in his progression, and he has a tendency to hesitate too long with his decision making in big moments.
But he understands his limitations. Brissett knows what he can do, and what he can’t. And that means a head coach like Frank Reich can work with him.
The topic of Brissett’s status as the potential “franchise” QB is especially poignant this week. He’s 4-0 as a starter against the Houston Texans, and the biggest game of his career thus far came against the AFC South rival on Oct. 20.
Houston loaded up against the run, played primarily man coverage and dared Brissett to win the game with his arm. He did, throwing for 326 yards and four touchdowns in a 30-23 victory.
Thursday, he faces the Texans again on a prime-time stage with control of the division over the season’s final five weeks hanging in the balance.
The game could give people on either side of the argument a shiny new data point to build a case around. Even if there’s good reason to continue to reserve judgment a little while longer.
Brissett has played in three different offenses over his first four NFL seasons, and this is the first time he’s been given the keys to the car. And that truly happened just two weeks before the start of the regular season.
So there’s still a lot to be unlocked — both good and bad — about the young quarterback’s game.
Still, Thursday’s is the kind of game difference-making quarterbacks find a way to win. And not just by getting out of the way.