The dust is still settling and Andrew Luck is still retiring. In one of the most shocking and unexpected sports moments in recent history, the 29-year-old quarterback announced his retirement from the NFL. Where does that leave the Colts?
At the beginning of their Saturday night preseason game against the Chicago Bears, the Colts were viewed as a favorite to win the Super Bowl. Luck was given the fifth-best odds to win the league’s MVP award by Bovada, a leading online sportsbook.
By the middle of the third quarter, everyone in the stadium had heard the news of Luck’s early retirement. Some fans even booed him as he left the field after the game.
The starting quarterback job now belongs to Jacoby Brissett, who has proven to be a capable playmaker in his limited action. The team is obviously very confident in Brissett, having reportedly turned down multiple trade offers for him prior to the 2018 season. Owner Jim Irsay even went as far as telling reporters he wouldn’t even accept a first-round pick for his backup quarterback.
Brissett has starting experience, filling in for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and suspended Tom Brady in 2016 before being traded to the Colts the next year and starting 15 of their 16 games.
It is important to understand the circumstances surrounding Brissett’s first year before making an evaluation of his play. He was traded from the Patriots to the Colts eight days before their first regular-season game. That meant he had no training camp or preseason reps and after eight days of scrambling to learn an all new playbook, Brissett was put in the game and became the starter. If that wasn’t enough adversity, nobody knew if or when Luck would return to the field and put Brissett back on the sidelines.
Still, if we take a look at Brissett’s numbers from the 2017 season, we can catch a glimpse of how good the new Colts offense can be. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and limited his turnovers, throwing only seven interceptions, however, Brissett did struggle with driving the ball down field, throwing just 13 touchdowns and completing less than 60% of his passes.
The 2017 Colts were a bad team, though. The offensive line was one of, if not, the worst in the whole NFL over the last five years. Their running game relied heavily on 34-year-old Frank Gore and their defense was in shambles.
To top it all off, they were playing for defensive minded coach Chuck Pagano who looked a little lost sometimes on offense.
These things have all changed, and regardless of who is lining up at quarterback, the Colts have talent. Their offensive line was revamped and went from allowing the most sacks in the league in 2017 to the fewest allowed in 2018. They have dangerous variety of size and speed at wide receiver and tight end, and the young running backs are explosive. Offensive genius and head coach Frank Reich calling the plays doesn’t hurt either.
With all of that being said, the Colts just lost a top-10 quarterback in his prime, not to mention their leader. So this won’t be a repeat of the 4-12 team from two seasons ago. It also won’t be a repeat of the 10-6 Colts from last season that had the sixth best passing offense in the league. By my estimations, it’ll be somewhere in the middle. Once again, the Colts are a wildcard in the AFC, but unfortunately, without Luck and with a tough schedule, the Colts will be longshots to make the playoffs this year.
All stats and figures are from Pro Football Focus and ESPN.