Even in mid-October, parody besieges the National Football League. With the focus on players kneeling or stars being lost to injury, the national media has missed one of the most endearing stories of the 2017 season, Jacoby Brissett. The former New England Patriot and current starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is flying under the radar as the replacement for an injured Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis acquired the former 91st overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft just before the season began, and he’s started for them since the second week of the season. After only having eight days to learn an NFL playbook, Brissett has gone 2-3 as the starter, scoring six touchdowns and only throwing three interceptions. Brissett, however, is used to being overlooked and underrated.
Coming out of William T. Dwyer High School in the class of 2011, Brissett was ranked the third best dual-threat quarterback in his class and a four star recruit by Rivals. After two uneventful years as a member of the Florida Gators, where he shared a “starting” quarterback role with fellow high recruit Jeff Driskel, he decided to transfer out of his home state school and into an offense that better suited his abilities. Though he hardly played as a Gator, Brissett was labeled as a bust prospect and was generally forgotten about, even though Florida has had many issues developing quarterbacks since the departure of Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer.
North Carolina State offered Brissett a fresh start away from all of the hype, ineptitude, and frustration UF’s offense was facing at the time. Not promised a starting job heading into the 2014 season, the transfer had to fend off Garrett Leatham and Jalan McClendon. Head Coach Dave Doeren, however, had his eye on who he thought would win the job in an interview with CBS Sports.
“He’s really good,” Doeren said of Brissett. “Not just talented. He’s a great leader. That’s the thing. Our quarterback has to be the CEO of our program. He will be that way. He will relish that. We look forward to that.”
If Doeren wanted a CEO, he may have stumbled upon the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, as his former quarterback is now flourishing at one of the most important positions in sports.
Cut out of the same mold as Pro Bowl and Super Bowl winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, Brissett uses his size to his advantage when maneuvering the pocket and finding his mark down the field. Not only is his pocket awareness above average, but he uses it to make his movement skills appear even more refined. Those skills, along with his impressive arm talent, were the reasons he was drafted by the Patriots and why the Colts felt it necessary to trade for him.
And for the Colts, the trade is paying off, as their new quarterback is finally starting to feel comfortable in his role. Brissett spoke on his improvements and comfort level after his first win with his new squad.
“Another week, you get a lot more comfortable, you get to learn from the mistakes that you make and you get to do it again and try to correct a lot of those things,” Brissett said. “It was just a lot more at ease I would say. It is definitely something that I’m still getting used to and still learning how to differentiate things that we go through for pregame and stuff like that, but I definitely felt a lot more comfortable.”
Not very many athletes recover from an initial failure at a major college and are able to rebound as well as Brissett has. There are also no guarantees anything he does this season translates into a starting job in the future, as Andrew Luck is set to return by next season.
Those factors are out of Brissett’s hands, much like the situations at Florida, NC State and New England. The one aspect of his career nobody can take away, however, is thriving in the scrappy role of an underdog.