Can the Indianapolis Colts Survive Jacoby Brissett’s Injury With Brian Hoyer?

It’s a testament to how well that Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts have played this season that Andrew Luck’s shocking preseason retirement has been so quickly forgotten. The Colts entered this Sunday’s road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 5-2 record, and Brissett was leading the way with 1,590 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and only three interceptions.

Early in the second quarter with the score tied up at 3-3, the Colts ran a short pass play on 1st and Goal from the Steelers 12-yard line. The pass fell incomplete, and Jacoby Brissett fell to the ground in agonizing pain. He was replaced by backup quarterback Brian Hoyer and would not return. Can the Colts survive an extended absence if the injury proves to be a serious one?

The replay did not look good

An instant replay of the play that knocked Jacoby Brissett out of the game revealed that the Colts quarterback might have suffered two different injuries to the same leg on the play.

Colts offensive lineman Quinton Nelson was trying to prevent a Steelers defender from reaching Brissett on the play. As he was getting pushed backwards, Nelson attempted to reposition his right foot, but in doing so he accidentally planted that foot into the side of Jacoby Brissett’s ankle. To make matters worse, Nelson was then knocked down into Brissett’s knee.

Both points of contact looked dangerous on their own; the two coming together on the same play is extremely worrisome. Head Coach Frank Reich stated after the game that he believes that Brissett suffered an MCL sprain. Tests will be done in the coming days to determine the severity of the injury.

Brian Hoyer played relatively well in relief

On his second play of the game, Brian Hoyer connected with Jack Doyle on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Hoyer would eventually finish the day going 17-for-26 with 168 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. That one interception was a disastrous one as it came on a 1st and 10 play from the Pittsburgh 20 and was returned for 96 yards and a touchdown. He also had a fumble on a fourth down play.

But despite those mishaps, Hoyer generally gave the Colts a chance to win, which is what teams ask for out of their backup quarterbacks. The 34-year-old led the team on a drive that started from the Indianapolis 15-yard line and on the Pittsburgh 25-yard line, giving Adam Vinatieri a shot at a 43-yard field goal that would have given the Colts the lead with 1:11 left on the clock. Vinatieri missed, and the Colts suffered a disappointing 26-24 loss to the Steelers.

This is Brian Hoyer’s 12th year in the NFL. He has served most of those seasons as a backup quarterback across multiple teams. With his performance today, he hit career milestones of 10,000 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns as he brought his career totals to 10,077 yards and 51 touchdowns.

Can Hoyer keep the Colts afloat?

Brian Hoyer had his ups and downs, but in the end he put Indianapolis in position to potentially win
Brian Hoyer had his ups and downs, but in the end he put Indianapolis in position to potentially win | Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Looking ahead at Indianapolis’s schedule, it’s quite possible that the Colts could survive a month or so without Jacoby Brissett. Indianapolis returns home next week for a very winnable game against the Miami Dolphins, and that is followed up by another manageable contest at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A road game at Houston is probably a loss without Brissett, but the next two games at home against the Tennessee Titans and on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could both still be competitive with Brian Hoyer under center.

Indianapolis doesn’t require its quarterback to be a world-beater. A strong offensive line and Marlon Mack power a solid rushing game, and the team’s defense has kept virtually all of the Colts’ games close this season. If Jacoby Brissett isn’t out for too long, Indianapolis might be able to weather this storm and keep its playoff hopes alive down the stretch.