There was a clip shared from Wednesday’s practice by the Indianapolis Colts’ official account.
In the video, wide receiver Devin Funchess runs across the field with a defender near his hip. Jacoby Brissett fires a rocket to a spot where only Funchess can make the catch, in between his target and the sideline.
Funchess’ hands flash out and catch the ball in stride. The scene then cuts to fellow wideout T.Y. Hilton celebrating with left guard Quenton Nelson.
It’s the kind of play that answers the question of what the Colts see in Brissett. They’ve always known he has a strong arm. He’s starting to show he can put the ball where it needs to be to have success at the NFL level.
One play means nothing.
But head coach Frank Reich likes the body of work he’s seen this offseason.
“I would say Jacoby has way above average arm talent,” Reich said. “On top of that, I just feel like he has just continued to develop as the complete passer – making touch throws, moving in the pocket.
“He can make off-schedule throws. He can extend plays and still keep his eyes down the field. I’m just really happy with how he is throwing the football right now.”
And therein lies the hope for 2019.
Indianapolis was rocked like no franchise in recent memory when quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement 15 days before the regular season opener.
A team with legitimate hopes of a Super Bowl championship suddenly was viewed as a long shot to win its own division.
The outside reaction was swift and predictable. The Colts slid down the power rankings and lost favor with the odds makers in Las Vegas.
The reaction inside the locker room was equally decisive. Within days, the team had moved on.
Walk into the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center these days, and it’s as though nothing has changed. There’s no seismic shift in the mood of the locker room. No list of ready made excuses for Sunday’s battle against the Los Angeles Chargers.
It’s business as usual, and that’s a credit to Reich and general manager Chris Ballard.
They attacked the issue head on, addressing it during a team meeting before the first practice after Luck’s decision was made public and making it clear the internal expectations will not change.
Brissett is the man now, and his teammates have simply accepted it.
“I have so much love and respect for him,” veteran defensive end Justin Houston said, “and I think he’s gonna shock a lot of people.”
The truth is nobody knows what to expect.
Brissett started 15 games in 2017, but this roster bears little resemblance to that team and the entire coaching staff has changed.
There are questions about his accuracy and ability to execute on third down and in the red zone. Those will have to be answered on the field of play.
There’s no doubt he’s got a big arm. He had 32 completions of 20 yards or more during his one season as the starter, the third-most in the NFL.
And there’s no question he’s a natural leader. Players gravitate to Brissett, and he welcomes them all in with a personality as big as the Colts’ faith in him.
But this Indianapolis team is a blank slate. It could finish anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6 without being a significant surprise to anyone.
Brissett will have plenty of say in how things turn out, but there’s no sense he has to be a savior.
This is a team built to support its quarterback, not to be carried by him.
There’s an offensive line with five returning starters who allowed the fewest sacks in the league last year.
There are threats at every level of the field – deep (Hilton), short (Parris Campbell) and intermediate (Devin Funchess) – in the wide receiving corps.
And there’s a running back in Marlon Mack who could be poised for a breakout season.
All the Colts want to see from Brissett is what they saw in that Wednesday practice clip. Put the ball where it needs to be and let his play makers make plays.
One throw at a time.