INDIANAPOLIS — With the month of July — and the start of training camp — upon us, it’s time for the Indianapolis Colts’ Burning Questions series.
We start today with the quarterback position:
» How will an emphasis on the run game affect Andrew Luck’s production?
Head coach Frank Reich has made it clear that his No. 1 objective on offense in 2019 is to have a more consistent run game. The Colts in 2018 didn’t exactly struggle running the ball — especially in the second half of the season — but overall they ranked 20th in the league in rushing yards, and 22nd in yards-per-carry average. So if Reich wants to have a top-five rushing unit this season, how will that affect Luck’s numbers? Theoretically, one might believe that while Luck’s total completions and passing attempts will go down from last season (he ranked second in the NFL in both categories in 2018), if the running game is more dynamic, then that should open things up down the field for bigger knockout-type plays in the passing game. So if all works to plan, there’s a chance that Luck’s numbers in terms of passing yards and touchdowns could be about the same year over year. But, come on, this is Andrew Luck we’re talking about; only one stat really matters to him. “When you run the ball well and throw it well at the same time, it’s fun to play,” Luck said. “(Running the ball effectively) is a must for us to be successful and we all know that. I would love to hand the ball off 50 times a game and throw it five and win. That would be amazing.”
» Will Jacoby Brissett generate any more trade chatter before the start of the season?
A lot can happen between now and the start of the regular season in early September. So let’s say another team’s starting quarterback goes down with an injury during training camp or the preseason; will that lead to calls to Colts general manager Chris Ballard inquiring about the availability of backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett? Look no further than how the Colts acquired Brissett in the first place: a week before the start of the 2017 regular season, when it was evident that Luck was not going to be ready for a while after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, Ballard, wanting more competition with Scott Tolzien at the quarterback position, sent wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the New England Patriots in exchange for Brissett. By Week 2, Brissett was inserted as the starter moving forward. While the Colts certainly feel very comfortable with their current quarterback situation, Ballard has acknowledged the realistic possibility of fielding calls about Brissett, especially as he enters a contract year in 2019. They won’t just send Brissett anywhere — they want to make sure it’s the right situation for him and for the Colts moving forward — but it’ll be interesting to see if any such opportunities arise over the next couple months.
» Will the Colts consider keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster?
The immediate answer to this burning question is it’s not likely, but it hasn’t been ruled out, either. The Colts have traditionally kept two quarterbacks on their active roster, and that remained the case last year, even early on as Luck worked his way back the first few weeks of the regular season. But if either Phillip Walker or Chad Kelly really tear it up during training camp and the preseason, and the Colts don’t want to risk exposing them to the rest of the league by first waiving them and then placing them on their practice squad, then there’s always the option of keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster. The team also has to keep Brissett’s contract situation in mind; if Ballard and Reich really see Walker or Kelly as their backup of the future should Brissett want to test free agency next offseason, then they’ll want to seriously consider keeping them on the 53-man roster, where they can’t be plucked by another team by this time next year.