Quit whining, loggers and crab fishermen; the most dangerous job in America is Colts quarterback.
Because of the front office’s inability to put together a line to protect its generational QB, Andrew Luck took more hits than any other passer in the league over his five seasons, and now he’s reportedly off in Europe, desperate for some kind of treatment to fix his mysteriously injured throwing shoulder. It hasn’t gotten any better this year with Luck out, and a more mobile Jacoby Brissett taking the majority of snaps: the Colts have allowed the most QB hits and the most sacks of any team in the NFL.
Plays like the one on which Brissett was concussed in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Steelers, in which his pocket collapses and he’s forced to scramble, don’t even show up in those numbers. Here’s the helmet-to-helmet hit from Stephon Tuitt, with commentary by Chris Nowinski, co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy:
Brissett did not miss a play, returning after a Steelers three-and-out and the break before the start of the fourth quarter, just in time to spell Scott Tolzien, who had taken the field but never took a snap.
The Colts said after the game that Brissett passed a concussion evaluation—two, actually. The first was administered by a team doctor because the independent concussion expert was busy with DB Kenny Moore, who is now also in the concussion protocol. When that independent consultant became available, the Colts say he examined Brissett and cleared him to return.
On Brissett’s first four plays after returning, he was hit three times, including two sacks, and threw one incompletion and one interception. He was obviously not the same player:
Through three quarters Brissett was 12-for-18 for 206 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.
In the fourth quarter, after being speared gently in the helmet, Brissett was 2-for-6 for 13 yards, no TDs and one INT.
Still, the Colts insist Brissett’s concussion symptoms only emerged after the game:
Heading into their bye week, the Colts are 3-7, dead last in the (non-Browns) AFC, and there’s not a ton of hope for the future. Andrew Luck, who was finally placed on season-ending IR after he went to see independent specialists when the Colts’ doctors couldn’t figure out why he was still suffering soreness nine months after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder (and after Colts owner Jim Irsay mused that it might all be in Luck’s head), is still a giant question mark.
ESPN reported this weekend that Luck is in Europe pursuing “non-traditional” treatments on his shoulder. We don’t know exactly what that entails, but we have a couple of ideas. Kobe Bryant famously traveled to Germany to undergo a blood-spinning treatment called Orthokine, in which his blood was withdrawn, incubated at a higher temperature to bring out the blood’s natural response to a fever, spun in a centrifuge to isolate specific anti-inflammatory substances, and injected back into his injured knee. A few years later Peyton Manning went to Europe to have stem cells harvested from his own fat tissue and injected into his injured neck. Both treatments are considered experimental; the science on their effectiveness, especially for the specific injuries athletes are trying to treat, is far from settled.
That Luck’s shoulder hasn’t responded to numerous accepted treatments, that he’s forced to leave the country to seek out alternatives, is pretty worrying. But if he’s watching what happened to Jacoby Brissett, and seeing how the Colts have yet again failed at installing much in the way of pass protection, why exactly should he be in a rush to get back behind that offensive line?