INDIANAPOLIS — Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in January "the jury’s still out" on Jacoby Brissett, and with a notable veteran signal-caller available, that might be a sign of things to come.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Colts are interested in the services of Philip Rivers, and from the many people Rapoport has talked to in Indianapolis during the NFL Scouting Combine, there’s a lot of belief that Rivers will end up donning a horseshoed helmet in 2020.
Rivers was excellent in 2018, posting a 105.5 passer rating and leading the Chargers to a playoff victory, but his final campaign with the Bolts wasn’t nearly as successful. Some of the issues had to do with a number of untimely injuries along the offensive line, forcing a few inexperienced members into action and taking away a good portion of Rivers’ reliable protection. He still finished with a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio (23-20), but it wasn’t anywhere near his 32-12 mark from the prior campaign, and it showed in Los Angeles’ 5-11 finish.
Ballard echoed his statements from January but had a bit of a defensive tone in his response pertaining to Brissett Tuesday at the combine.
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"This thing has taken a life of its own. We did a two-year deal with Jacoby to find out, kind of — we like Jacoby Brissett," Ballard said. "Love what he stands for. It was almost a tale of two seasons with him. We’re 5-2 and he’s playing good football, he had the injury and then we had injuries as a team and we kind of slid down. We did the short-term deal to see what we had.
"To say we’re going to create competition, we’re going to create competition at any spot. That’s going to be a year-to-year thing. Even when Andrew (Luck) was our quarterback, we still studied the quarterback position. I just think it’s important enough that it’s a unique position, we know how hard they are to find and you’ve gotta go in-depth each and every year for that spot."
Creating competition in past years might mean drafting a quarterback in the later rounds or signing a backup, but that’s not what the Rivers situation would entail. Bringing Rivers in would almost assuredly be placing him in the starting role, or at the bare minimum putting him in a camp competition with Brissett for the job.
Indianapolis’ struggles in 2019 weren’t solely on Brissett. As Ballard mentioned, key injuries elsewhere — T.Y. Hilton’s battle to stay on the field (he played 10 games in 2019), Marlon Mack’s hand fracture, etc. — undercut Indianapolis’ offensive potential. Brissett just happened to be the face of it because he’s the quarterback.
That doesn’t preclude Indianapolis from taking a serious look at Rivers, who could come in, play behind a very solid offensive line and immediately make the Colts a legitimate threat in the AFC South, as long as his performance doesn’t significantly regress. The Colts also aren’t married to Brissett, as Ballard mentioned with the two-year deal, so this could force them to make a final determination on his future while also not being left empty handed.
Rivers moved his family to Florida permanently earlier this year, but he might be spending his fall and winter in Indiana. For a quarterback who still wants a couple more years of football before moving on, this could be the perfect situation for him to finish his career with a contender instead of a doomed savior for a more desperate franchise.
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