INDIANAPOLIS — The way Jacoby Brissett played on Sunday, one might assume he's been working within the Indianapolis Colts' offense for at least a year or two.
Truth be told, he's been in Indianapolis all of 15 days.
In that two-week span, Brissett has put in many late nights just trying to get a grasp on the Colts' playbook. But there he was on Sunday, getting the start under center for Indy in its 2017 home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
And with a realistic gameplan from his coaches — and a helpful wristband as his on-field guide — Brissett showed he's more than capable of holding down the fort at quarterback until Andrew Luck is able to work his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.
The final result was a 16-13 overtime victory for the Cardinals, but Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Brissett's performance under such challenging circumstances adds to his optimism about the team's chances moving forward.
"He's got great poise. (He) made great decisions. Hung in there. He stands tall in the pocket. He's tough as damn nails. He could extend some plays," Pagano said of Brissett. "He had good presence and good command and poise. It's like he's been (here) for a long, long time, which is encouraging."
The final numbers — 20-of-37 passing for 216 yards with an interception — certainly don't jump off the stat sheet, but Brissett, who was acquired in a trade from the New England Patriots on Sept. 2, showed several flashes of what he brings to the table throughout the afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts' first drive was perhaps Brissett at his best. He made solid throws from the pocket, but also showed an ability to evade the pressure and find the open man when needed, as well, moving the chains on three out of Indy's first four opportunities on third down.
That initial drive would go 53 yards in 14 plays — and chew 5:45 off the clock — and culminated in a Frank Gore five-yard touchdown run.
The long, successful drive and the third down conversions all were missing pieces last week in the Colts' 46-9 Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
"That first drive was a great kind of welcome to the team," Brissett said. "I think we just did a good job. We did what we knew we had to do, and we had to grind a lot of long drives."
Throughout the game, Brissett got into a rhythm when targeting the team's top tight end, Jack Doyle, who caught all eight passes thrown his way for a career-best 79 yards. His success when working with the team's top receivers was a little more inconsistent, however.
T.Y. Hilton, the Colts' top receiver, was targeted six times and caught four of them for 49 yards; No. 2 receiver Donte Moncrief was targeted eight times but caught just two passes for 18 yards; and No. 3 receiver Kamar Aiken was targeted a team-high nine times, but caught just three of them for 31 yards, though his 14-yard reception on a 3rd and 12 on the opening drive was perhaps the most important play of that series.
Hilton admitted after the game he's still working on getting his timing down with Brissett, but "at the end of the day, we'll be fine."
"There are big things in front of him," Hilton said of Brissett. "He played really well. You have to give him credit, to get the offense down as much as he did and come out here and compete, my hats off to him."
Brissett also has plenty he knows he can work on individually heading into next week's game against the Cleveland Browns (0-2). While he was able to avoid the pressure on several plays Sunday, Brissett would be sacked four times on the afternoon, and then there was the first play in the overtime period, when he threw the ball straight to Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu in Indianapolis territory, easily setting up Arizona's game-winning field goal.
"I saw it as soon as I let it go," Brissett said of that intercepted throw. "You know, a dumb decision, you can't make those type of plays, especially down the stretch when you need it the most."
But, overall, Brissett has given the team — and himself — confidence that he can handle the load moving forward.
"You've got to learn the offense, you've got to learn what the defense is doing, you've got to learn the players, you've got to learn the team, and it's been a lot of fun, no doubt about that," he said. "It's just exciting to move forward and get better from this game and then go to work."