INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It took a voice from above to keep Jacoby Brissett out of the starting lineup.
That voice belonged to his head coach, Frank Reich.
Had it been up to Brissett, he would have remained the Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback Sunday when the Miami Dolphins visited Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Yeah,’’ Brissett said Tuesday. “I mean, yeah.
“I felt like I was getting better each day, and then it was the coach’s decision. He made a decision that was best for myself and the team. It’s his job, I guess, to protect myself from myself.’’
Brissett sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee at Pittsburgh, then was limited in practice the three days leading up to the Miami game. Reich was encouraged with Brissett’s daily progress, but opted to keep him out of the game and turn to backup Brian Hoyer. He determined Brissett was at about 80% efficiency when a decision absolutely had to be made.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni nodded when informed Brissett wanted to play, sprained knee and all.
“He could have been missing a toe or two toes or three toes or whatever,’’ he said. “That’s the type of toughness that guys attract to on this team. That’s why guys follow him.
“It wouldn’t have mattered: 104-degree temperature, whatever. He was going to play.’’
Until he was told he wasn’t.
Reich isn’t interested in a repeat of last week’s lingering uncertainty. While Brissett was taking the vast majority of the reps with the starting offense and testing his knee, Hoyer wasn’t getting enough work with the front-line players.
Reich admitted it wasn’t ideal, but added, “that’s the role of a backup quarterback.’’
A byproduct of the lack of work for Hoyer: 18-of-39 passing, 204 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, a 16-12 loss.
The plan this week as the Colts prepare for Sunday’s AFC South meeting with Jacksonville in Lucas Oil Stadium is for the quarterback decision – Brissett or Hoyer – being made Wednesday, if at all possible.
“I’m not going to try and make any secret about it, I’m really not,’’ Reich said Monday. “If he is practicing and taking full practice, at that point we will say, ‘We are ready to go. He is our starter and we are going forward.
“But we will wait until Wednesday to make that decision.’’
Brissett said he felt better Tuesday than he did Friday.
“I feel four days better,’’ he joked.
His approach this week is to “just get ready and be ready to go and deal with what I’ve got to deal with. We’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us.’’
If Brissett is under center against the Jaguars, he’ll be facing a defense that overwhelmed his offensive line and roughed him up twice in 2017.
En route to a 27-0 romp at Lucas Oil Stadium in week 7, the Jaguars were credited with 10 sacks and 20 hits on Brissett, who dropped back to pass 47 times. It was tied for the second-most sacks allowed in Colts’ history. In the week 13 rematch in Jacksonville – a 30-10 Jaguars romp – Brissett was sacked 4 times and the Jaguars were credited with 8 QB hits on his 40 drop-backs.
Is it hard to forget those two games?
“No, it’s easy,’’ Brissett said with a smile. “It was two years ago. A lot’s happened in two years. They still have those core guys up front that did what they did two years ago.’’
Like Calais Campbell? He had 3 sacks in the two games and has 5.5 this season.
“Yeah, not looking forward to seeing him,’’ Brissett said.
He was reminded the Jaguars still feature a tough defense: tied for 13th in fewest points allowed and 30 sacks, tied for 5th-most in the league.
“A lot’s happened in two years,’’ Brissett repeated. “Our front’s changed, too.’’
The only holdovers in the starting lineup are left tackle Anthony Castonzo and center Ryan Kelly, and even that requires a caveat. Kelly suffered a knee injury in the first half of the first game and was replaced by Mike Person, who would start in the rematch in Jacksonville.
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