INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett today spoke to the local media via video conference. What did he have to say about his transition back to a backup role behind Philip Rivers, why he believes he'll once again be a starting quarterback in the NFL, what he's learned from the likes of Tom Brady and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Brissett said he was initially "surprised" to learn the Colts were signing Philip Rivers as their new starting quarterback this offseason: "But it's the NFL," Brissett quickly added. "There are really no surprises."
Tasked with taking over the offense last season after the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck, Brissett and the Colts got off to a hot start, going 5-2 over their first seven games. Over that span, Brissett, who was among the league leaders in touchdown passes, was considered a darkhorse MVP candidate by some.
But the Colts would struggle to find consistency the rest of the way, finishing 2-7 over their final nine games. Brissett, who started the year with 14 touchdown passes in Indy's first six games, would throw just four more scores the rest of the way; a knee injury suffered Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't help matters for Brissett, who would miss the following week's game against the Miami Dolphins.
When all was said and done, though, Brissett completed 272-of-447 passes (60.9 percent) for 2,942 yards, had 56 rushing attempts for 228 yards and another four scores on the ground and was among the league's best at protecting the football, as evidenced by his 18-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He was also selected as a Pro Bowl alternate for the first time in his career.
After pouring over the film from the entire season, head coach Frank Reich, general manager Chris Ballard and team owner Jim Irsay came to the conclusion that they'd be content with sticking with Brissett as their starter heading into the 2020 season. But Reich alluded to a "crazy, unique opportunity" that ultimately led to the team signing the eight-time Pro Bowler Rivers, who played under Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni with the Chargers from 2013-17.
So that means Brissett, like he was in 2018 behind Luck, is the Colts' backup quarterback once again, though he's not letting that fact affect who he is as a player and as a teammate.
"I'm going to always be myself," Brissett said. "I'm thankful that my teammates think of me in that nature – being a great teammate – and that will never change no matter circumstances or whatever position I'm in. My focus is to get better each and every day, and I think my teammates will be able to say that about me when I go to work every day."
» That being said, Brissett does believe he's a starting-caliber NFL quarterback: As he enters the final year of the two-year contract he signed with the Colts just before the start of the 2019 regular season, Brissett was asked: does he think he can eventually take over the starting job in Indy again? Does he think he'll be a starter somewhere else?
"I know I'll be a starter in this league one day again," Brissett answered. "So wherever that may be."
But Brissett knows how important it is to focus on the here and now — especially in today's world, where the COVID-19 pandemic and the unpredictability that comes with it could lead to him immediately being needed on the field at any time.
"To constantly do what I do," Brissett said when asked how he sees his role playing out this year. "I get better every time I step out on the field and try to get better each and every day. I think our role each week is going to change for everybody with what's going on – and being ready to play more than ever right now. So, that is my approach.
» Whether it's been Tom Brady, Luck and now Rivers, Brissett has enjoyed learning from some of the game's best quarterbacks: Brissett, a third-round pick by the New England Patriots in the 2016 NFL Draft, got a front-row seat to one of the game's greatest quarterbacks, Brady, for more than a year. When he got traded to the Colts just before the start of the 2017 season, he eventually developed a close relationship with Luck, learning the ropes from one of the more cerebral quarterbacks of his era.
Now, Brissett is getting a chance to work alongside Rivers, who in his first 16 seasons with the Chargers has compiled a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career.
It doesn't hurt that both Brissett and Rivers are North Carolina State alums.
"It's been fine. I mean, NC State grad, QBU, so it has been fine," Brissett said when asked about his interactions with Rivers to this point. "The competition is still there. It's a process and still trying to learn as much as I can. He's been in the game for a while, so definitely try to soak up some knowledge."
Just like he has in his experiences with Brady and Luck, Brissett expects to draw whatever it is he can from his time with Rivers down the road.
"It's never in the first month that you really realize what you've learned from that person. It's more so over time that that knowledge soaks in – that you get to pick up, sit back and reflect on a lot of the conversations and interactions that you've had," Brissett said. "That's when you pick up and go, 'Wow, I learned this form this person. I learned this from that person.' So hopefully when I look back on this time, I will be able to say I learned this, this and that."
Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly and Jacob Eason got reps in at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center ahead of the 2020 season.