The Indianapolis Colts descended back to the morass of NFL teams not in the playoffs, but also not in a full-blown rebuild in 2019.
A big reason for their decline: quarterback play. The Colts were forced to adjust on the fly, thanks to Andrew Luck's surprise retirement, and Jacoby Brissett's struggle-filled second half of the season had general manager Chris Ballard answering serious questions about the future at the position Thursday.
"Jacoby did some good things and I don't want to just look at the second half of the season and say he didn't 'cause Jacoby did some good things," Ballard said. "I think as a whole, one: Our passing, not just the quarterback position but our passing game has to improve unequivocally. That has to get better. You have to be able to throw the football to win in this league. I think we all know that.
"I think the jury's still out, that's why we did the short-term deal with Jacoby. Both from a standpoint of, one, to give us some security that we knew we had a player we liked and could go forward with but also, two, to see, time for us to figure out if he is the guy or not. Jacoby did a lot of good things. He also did some things I think he would tell you he needs to get better at but it's a constant evaluation."
Brissett's play was passable at worst in 2019, a season in which he assembled his best passer rating (88) of his career and accounted for 22 total touchdowns (18 passing, four rushing). But after Brissett suffered a knee injury in early November, the Colts generally struggled to do much of anything right, losing seven of their final nine to go from 5-2 to 7-9.
Brissett only missed a game and a half with the injury, but it seemed to be the issue that started the avalanche. When the quarterback was able to fight through the injury to return, he frequently found himself with a thinned-out receiving corps. T.Y. Hilton was only able to appear in 10 games, and second-round pick Parris Campbell was even less available, battling multiple injuries to play in seven games as a rookie.
Add in injuries to depth players like Chester Rogers and Daurice Fountain, and a season-opening (and season-ending) collarbone injury to free-agent addition Devin Funchess, and you've got a decimated receiving corps. That -- and a lengthy injury to bellcow back Marlon Mack -- will only make the going tougher for Brissett.
"We've got to help him, we got to help him with better weapons at times and Frank's got to help him schematically and then Jacoby's got to help himself by playing better in specific spots," Ballard said.
He's right. Brissett could've been better in spots and the Colts could've realistically still mustered nine wins, even with the injuries. But this is a collective effort, of which Brissett can continue to be a part if he improves in 2020.
His teammates can help by first getting healthy in time for the 2020 season. They can figure out the rest afterward.