As the NFL news cycle speeds by with dramatic games, stunning results, rookie debuts, puzzling departures and controversy on and off the field, it almost suddenly feels like so long ago that Andrew Luck shocked the sports world with his retirement.
"He prepares -- he's always prepared like the starter," Ballard said via team transcripts. "And I remember saying this during Andrew's (Luck's) press conference when he retired that, look, Jacoby won't flinch. And he hasn't flinched. He's played really good football -- he's played winning football for us each and every week."
Every week, Brissett has had two or more passing touchdowns and he's the only quarterback in the league to do that over the first quarter of the season. He's put together 911 yards passing, he's completing 65.2 percent of his passes and his 10 touchdowns are tied for first in the league. One of the players he's tied with is Chiefs wunderkind Patrick Mahomes.
The unflinching Brissett is in his second season as a starter, following a 2017 campaign in relief for an injured Luck.
However, this is Brissett's team going forward, not just for the interim until the franchise QB returns. This time around, the franchise QB has retired.
Ballard maintains Brissett is still the same guy, who at one point was seen as a possible heir apparent for Tom Brady following his 2016 rookie season in New England. Shortly thereafter, Brissett came to Indy via trade.
"Jacoby, he's the same guy he was since the first day we traded for him," Ballard said. "Somebody asked me a question today in my office about Jacoby and his leadership, and I said, 'Look, what makes him really special is he's authentic, he's real and he's the same guy every day -- and he's been that way since the day he walked in this building.'"
While Ballard believes Brissett is the same as he ever was, statistically he's risen to the challenge of steering the Colts.
His 10 touchdowns have already almost matched the 13 he threw in 16 games in 2017. Along with that, his completion percentage is up by roughly six points, his passing yards per game by more than 24 and his passer rating sits at 102.1 after an 81.4 showing two seasons ago.
"Look, you are what your record is, and we're 2-2, we're a .500 football team. It's been an interesting tale of the season," Ballard said. "But, look, we're through one quarter of the season, we're 2-2 and there's a lot of football left and a lot of chance for us to get better and keep improving."