5 Things Learned: Jacoby Brissett Looks Better In Preseason Home Opener
5 Things Learned: Jacoby Brissett Looks Better In Preseason Home Opener
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INDIANAPOLIS – Yes, there was a game played between the Colts and Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday afternoon, even though Andrew Luck stirred up some headlines prior to kickoff.
With 29 combined penalties by the two teams, Saturday had a very sloppy preseason feel to the contest, but there were some key takeaways from the live action.
Here are 5 things learned from the 28-18 loss to the Browns:
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
- Better Brissett, Same Poor Run Game: Frank Reich left Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night feeling good about what his backup quarterback showed, and still disappointed with his rushing attack. Brissett was better on Saturday, going 8-for-10, for 100 yards and a touchdown to Eric Ebron. Brissett moved well in the pocket, kept some plays alive and had terrific ball placement on a perfect 6-of-6 TD drive, which ended his night after 3 series. However, the poor run game was again there from the starting unit. Without Marlon Mack dodging tacklers like he did behind the line of scrimmage, the stat line would have even looked worse than his 6 carries for 10 yards (with a long rush of 8 yards). Even with many of the key run game frontline guys in the lineup early on Saturday (Anthony Castonzo, Ryan Kelly, Jack Doyle, Marlon Mack...and yes Quenton Nelson was out), the production was still lacking. In the first two preseason games, the Colts’ starting running backs (Nyheim Hines in Week 1, Marlon Mack in Week 2) have combined for 12 total carries and just 11 yards. That’s really ugly. And not good for Reich’s biggest off-season focus offensively.
- Rock Ya-Sin Starting: For a second straight week, the starting defense looked like a mix bag. But an interesting note came on the first play of the night, with rookie Rock Ya-Sin moving ahead of Quincy Wilson, and into the starting nickel group. Ya-Sin did have a pass interference penalty though on Saturday, on a play where he had strong man coverage, but didn’t get his head turned around before the underthrown ball arrived. Ya-Sin versus Wilson has been a great battle call camp, with the rookie’s playmaking earning the nod he got on Saturday. Whoever is a part of this nickel group better be ready for a lot of playing time early in the season with the likes of Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr and Patrick Mahomes on the schedule in the first 5 weeks of the year. One note on the DBs, that group didn’t have a great night, especially going against Browns third string quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who got the start for Cleveland on Saturday.
- Phillip Walker Stays As Current No. 2 Quarterback: Even though we’ve seen more of a 50/50 split for the QB No. 2 reps in practice the past week, Phillip Walker had that ‘backup’ role on Saturday. It was Walker entering the game early in the second quarter, once Jacoby Brissett exited after 3 series. Walker was better on Saturday than his preseason opening performance. He went for 10-of-17 for 104 yards (4 series of work), while his pass catchers dropped a few balls. Chad Kelly closed the game very late in the third quarter, and once again delivered. After a TD drive on Kelly’s first series of work, he finished the night 8-of-10 for 84 yards and a TD. Now, if Kelly is going to overtake Walker, we probably won’t truly know that answer until Week Three of the regular season, once Kelly’s two-game suspension is complete.
- Here Comes Deon Cain: Last week’s return to game action was obviously huge for Deon Cain’s confidence. And the youngster took another big step forward on Saturday with 7 catches for 80 yards. We saw several grabs from Cain well out of a normal catch radius. Yes, there was one drop, but Cain still makes enough grabs on balls that are not thrown right on target to make up for that. Cain just looks like a natural wideout. His movements are fluid and smooth, which is shocking for a guy who tore his ACL one year and a week ago. We saw some starting reps from Cain on Saturday, as a sub, and he needs to remain in that mix moving forward. After Saturday’s game, Frank Reich pointed out the encouraging signs from seeing Cain and Ross Travis (who had a TD catch from Chad Kelly) make big plays as they return from ACL injuries that occurred in last year’s preseason.
- Andrew Luck Shows Off Lateral Movement: One might argue the most important part of Saturday’s game for the Colts was the work done by Andrew Luck about two hours before kickoff. It was then that Luck felt comfortable in a very public setting to go through a workload in which he tested out the lateral movement that is so important in judging his availability to play on September 8th. Remember, it was the side-to-side movement for Luck in which Chris Ballard pointed out earlier this week as an important hurdle for the quarterback to clear. Well, the video we saw of Luck’s early work on Saturday looked to be pretty good as he tries to progress in that area.
-Reich Quotable: On Jacoby Brissett’s touchdown drive: “It was good accuracy. Obviously, the one time a guy was coming free, he avoids and makes the play to (Eric) Ebron. The throw on the touchdown is the only place where you can put the ball. Even when we stalled early on, I could just feel Jacoby was in control, he was in the zone, it just felt real confident in how he was seeing things and his presence out there. Just really a good confidence building for our offense and Jacoby to play like that. That’s what we’ve been seeing in practice, but good to see that in a preseason game.”
-Player Quotable: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett on the confidence boost he got from Saturday: “There’s nothing like doing it in a game. You can do everything in practice, but then you get to the game and it kind of seems foreign to you. It’s good to get a lot of this stuff on film, in a live game setting. Obviously, the quarterback can get hit. Just being able to see things like that, bounce back from being hit, you can’t replicate that (in practice).”
-Offensive Starters: QB-Jacoby Brissett, RB-Marlon Mack, WR-Devin Funchess, WR-Zach Pascal, WR-Chester Rogers, TE-Eric Ebron, LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Josh Andrews, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Mark Glowinski, RT-Braden Smith. With T.Y. Hilton out on Saturday, Zach Pascal got promoted to the starting unit in a 3-receiver sets. We saw Deon Cain rotate in with the starters in the opening quarter, and recorded a catch from Brissett. When Brissett and the starters exited after 3 series of work, Phillip Walker got the first crack with the second-team offense, for a second consecutive week.
-Defensive Starters: DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE-Justin Houston, DT-Margus Hunt, DT-Denico Autry, LB-Anthony Walker, LB-Darius Leonard, CB-Pierre Desir, CB-Kenny Moore, CB-Rock Ya-Sin, S-Malik Hooker, S-Clayton Geathers. It should be noted that Ya-Sin started over Quincy Wilson in the nickel package. The Colts subbed young rushers Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu in the game pretty early and both had flashes. When they went to a base defense, it was Zaire Franklin over E.J. Speed at the SAM linebacker position (starter Matthew Adams didn’t play on Saturday). If you want to go a little deeper on the cornerback depth chart, both Marvell Tell and Nate Hairston were in the game before Jalen Collins.
-Injury Report: The following players did not play for the Colts on Saturday: QB-Andrew Luck (calf, ankle), RB-Jordan Wilkins (foot), WR-Reece Fountain (ankle), WR-T.Y. Hilton, WR-Parris Campbell (hamstring), WR-Penny Hart (hamstring), DT-Tyquan Lewis, WR-T.Y Hilton, OG-Quenton Nelson (ankle), DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee), K-Adam Vinatieri (knee). Running back Jonathan Williams (chest) left the game late in the second quarter and did not return. Offensive lineman Jake Eldrenkamp (eye) left the game in the 4th quarter and did not return.
-Key Stat: In 2 preseason games, the Colts’ starting running backs have combined for 11 yards on 12 total carries (Nyheim Hines in Week 1: 6 carries for 1 yards, Marlon Mack in Week 2: 6 carries for 10 yards).
-What’s Next: The Colts are done with Training Camp and will now return to their facility for a regular season dress rehearsal week from a practice standpoint. They will practice Tuesday-Thursday. Week Three of the preseason will see the Colts host the Chicago Bears next Saturday at 7:00 PM.