INDIANAPOLIS — When you rewind back to this time last year, the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback situation had a lot more question marks then than it currently does. What were questions of concern then have turned into "good" problems to have now.
Now that the season is over, we can dive into how the position group performed in 2018.
- Started 16-of-16 games (two-of-two in the playoffs), 430-of-639 passing (67.3 percent) for 4,593 yards (7.2 YPA), 39 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 98.7 passer rating, 18 sacks, one fumble lost
- 46 carries for 148 yards (3.2 avg)
- One reception (two targets) for four yards
While enticing, we'll spare the internet from starting this out with the online receipts of Luck doubters past and just say that he looked more than OK in his return from shoulder rehabilitation.
For those somehow unfamiliar to the situation, Luck underwent surgery on his right shoulder following the 2016 season. The recovery and rehab took a little longer than hoped, and it resulted in Luck sitting out the 2017 season. Without seeing him throw since 2016, it was natural to wonder how Luck would perform when he returned in 2018.
When all was said and done, however, Luck had what many consider to be his best year yet in 2018, earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors after bringing the Colts back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season.
Partnering with new Colts head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, Luck set new single-season career highs in completions (430), pass attempts (639), completion percentage (67.3 percent), passer rating (98.7), ESPN QBR (71.6) and Pro Football Focus grade (91.3).
Luck threw the ball early and often, passing at a league-record pace at one point in the season. Once the offensive line got healthier, the run game was able to pick up some slack, relieving some of the pressure on Luck and allowing him to play for efficiency.
He threw at least three touchdown passes in each game between Weeks 4-12, which tied former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (eight) for the second-most consecutive such games in NFL history. The pair only trails New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who had 10 consecutive games with three touchdown passes in 2011.
In the regular season finale, Luck threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Hewitt, who was the 13th different player to catch a touchdown from Luck in 2018. That number tied the single-season NFL record for touchdowns thrown to an amount of recipients with Matt Ryan (2016) and Drew Brees (2018).
Ultimately earning Pro Bowl recognition, Luck was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for his performance in November, AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 11 and FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week for Week 12.
- Appeared in four games, 2-of-4 passing (50.0 percent) for two yards (0.5 YPA), 56.2 passer rating
- Seven carries for -7 yards
Brissett filled in admirably at quarterback for the Colts in Luck's absence in 2017. With Luck back in 2018, Brissett was a safety net for the Colts in the event anything were to happen to Luck, but arguably his greatest value came as a teammate. General manager Chris Ballard had the following to say about Brissett in his year-end press conference, when asked if he would consider trading the quarterback this offseason:
"I like to sleep at night. I mean I had to live a year with poor Jacoby is out there getting thrown into the fire. Let me say this about Jacoby Brissett, I had a long visit with him yesterday. He is a special, special teammate. I think you have all seen that. You have been through that locker room. He is well respected. I think the relationship between him and Andrew has become very strong over time and as you would expect in that quarterback room. This is what I told Jacoby I said, 'I am not giving you away, won't do it.' I said, 'I had chances last year and I didn't do it and I won't do it again.' It would have to be right organizationally and for him. I want to do the right thing for the player too now. I want to do the right thing for Jacoby. Jacoby has too much value to us, not only as our backup quarterback, who I think you can absolutely win with and I think he is a starter in the league, but also to the locker room. He is well respected throughout the locker room by both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. So that's something we will work through, but it would take somebody doing something that would absolutely blow me away and it has to be the right thing for the kid too. I am not just sending him anywhere."
While Brissett's future with the team is uncertain because he's no longer a secret and quarterback-needy teams are enticed by what he could offer, the young signal-caller is too valuable to the Colts franchise to be given up for just anything. Under Ballard and Reich, the Colts are building a new culture, and Brissett has been a huge part of that.
Walker spent the majority of the 2018 season on the Colts' practice squad after a standout preseason in which he went 30-of-49 passing (61.2 percent) for 446 yards (9.1 YPA), four touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 101.2. He also carried the ball 10 times for 29 yards (2.9 avg). He showed clear growth under Reich and Sirianni from his rookie season in 2017 to Year 2.
Kaaya was waived-injured by the Colts on Aug. 24, clearing waivers and landing on the team's Injured Reserve list where he would remain for the season. In two preseason games in 2018, he completed 3-of-4 passes for for 24 yards and a passer rating of 89.6. He also carried the ball six times for -6 yards (three of those carries were end-of-game kneel-downs).