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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Jacoby Brissett learns from the best

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Colts backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett is in just his third NFL season, but already he’s had an eventful and quite lucky pro career. Brissett, 26, started for most of the 2017 season while a shoulder injury sidelined Andrew Luck. Aside from playing alongside Luck, Brissett spent his first NFL season learning from future Hall of Famer Tom Brady on the New England Patriots.

Knowing they needed a stopgap quarterback, the Colts traded wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots in exchange for Brissett, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft who played in three games that season for the eventual Super Bowl champions.

“It’s been a tremendous asset,” Brissett said of learning from two of the game’s better quarterbacks. “It’s just an invaluable tool for me.”

The Colts finished 2017 with a 4-12 record, their lowest win total since winning two games in 2011, which ended their streak of nine consecutive postseason appearances. Brissett was initially behind Scott Tolzien on the depth chart, but Tolzien’s ineffectiveness — he completed just 50 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions in the Colts’ first game — prompted a change in Week 2. The Colts didn’t magically become a playoff contender, but they were undeniably competitive under Brissett’s leadership.

Brissett earned the respect of his teammates and coaches, in large part because the Colts’ offensive line wasn’t good enough to keep him from getting sacked too often. But he also guided the Colts to a point where they weren’t a laughing stock, despite losing 12 games.

The Colts played in three overtime games (they were 1-2 in those games) and lost five games by less than four points. Brissett played well enough that there were some rumblings of the Colts possibly trading him when Luck became healthy enough to start again, but the team paid him another compliment instead, seeing him as valuable enough to keep around in case he’s needed again.

Brissett said being the starter last season gave him a different perspective on the position and a greater knowledge of the game in general.

“The cliché is, ‘Practice like you’re the starter, prepare like you’re the starter,” he said. “It’s the honest truth. You hold that mindset and that focus. You just play it the same way.”

This kind of focus and professional flexibility is coming from a player who doesn’t have natural connections to Indianapolis like some other players do. After spending most of his life in Florida (he even attended the University of Florida for two years), he doesn’t have family in the Indianapolis area or many friends to lean on. It’s just the Colts, but Brissett seems fine with that.

“You’ve got the team,” he said. “That’s really all you need. That’s all you have time for honestly.”

Like any competitor, Brissett of course wants to be back out on the field. He occasionally gets to do that, like on Nov. 25, 2018 against the Miami Dolphins when Brissett threw the ball to Luck, who was lined up as a receiver, to convert on fourth down. But Brissett is again a backup — most NFL quarterbacks would be a backup to Luck — and the itch to play is always there.

“Of course,” Brissett said when asked if he would still like to be a starter. “You want to be out there and play, no matter what it is. That’ll never go away.”

 

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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