INDIANAPOLIS – The phrase has flowed out of the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room from day 1: don’t count the reps, make the reps count.
Jacoby Brissett has listened and bided his time. Now, he’s making them count.
Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers were the showcased quarterbacks Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but Brissett left his mark and was instrumental in the Colts’ 34-31 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers.
Let’s call it quality over quantity.
Brissett only was on the field for seven plays, including three when Rivers was huddling with trainers to discuss an injured big toe. Three of the Brissett-involved plays came on third- or fourth-and-short and produced first downs – one each by Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins and a third when Brissett burrowed for 4 yards on a fourth-and-1 sneak.
On the fourth play, Brissett scooted around left end for a 5-yard gain.
Again, it would be a mistake to dismiss his impact. Each of the three possessions coach Frank Reich dialed up specialty plays for Brissett resulted in scores: Rivers’ 17-yard TD pass to Trey Burton, Rivers’ 6-yard TD to Jack Doyle and Rodrigo Blankenship’s 37-yard field goal.
“You have to give Jacoby a lot of credit,’’ owner Jim Irsay said. “He’s become a spark the last two weeks.’’
In the 34-17 road win over the Tennessee Titans, Brissett capped the pivotal victory by replacing Rivers on a third-and-1 at the Titans 2 and powering in for a touchdown.
Brissett was forced to deal with a major role adjustment when the Colts signed Rivers to a one-year, $25 million contract in March. He no longer was QB1. He was the $21.3 million backup whose contribution – barring an injury to Rivers – would be in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
There was a failed play (a sack) in the season-opener at Jacksonville and another against Baltimore.
Brissett was asked if there’s more urgency when he’s on the field for a handful of plays and not 60 or 70 plays as a starter.
“I think for anybody it’s always urgent when you’re playing in an NFL game,’’ he said. “Whatever that role may be – whether it’s 60 plays or whether it is two plays – that goal is always to make them count.
“Whatever that is, you’ve got to accept it and be ready when the opportunity comes.’’
Coach Frank Reich and coordinator Nick Sirianni anticipated a busy afternoon for Brissett against Green Bay. It was part of the week-long preparation.
“Jacoby was lights out, was money,’’ Reich said. “That was the plan all week. Nick and I and the offensive staff talked early in the week, ‘Let’s make this a priority.’
“The whole offense is open with Jacoby. This isn’t just a quarterback sneak and quarterback zone-read stuff. We feel confident calling anything with Jacoby in.’’
The Colts took a novel approach with Brissett. Rivers remained in the huddle and called the play, then Brissett trotted in from the sideline.
“That’s weird. That has to be weird for a quarterback to go in and not call a play,’’ Reich said. “We just made sure we got enough reps at it.
“We thought that would be the most efficient way time-wise and not let the defense adjust.
“Jacoby did a phenomenal job.’’
The added work had nothing to do with stroking Brissett.
“I wouldn’t say it was for like a morale booster for me,’’ he said. “They trusted me.’’
About that toe
Rivers suffered an injury to his big toe in the second half and clearly was limping. He huddled with the training staff in the fourth quarter but missed only a couple of plays.
“Yeah, I’ll be all right,’’ Rivers said. “I just got my big toe. I’ve never had a toe (injury), anything with a toe.
“It will probably be sore (this) week, but I anticipate being fine.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.