REGGIE HAYES: Colts fans stuck waiting for season to end

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla. (Photo by the Associated Press)

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla. (Photo by the Associated Press)

Indianapolis Colts fans have reached the lost-season limbo zone where all they can do is wait.

Wait to see if Jacoby Brissett proves indestructible as he’s sacked for the 5,000th time.

Wait for the offseason, to see if Andrew Luck’s shoulder returns to normal. Wait to see if Luck ever plays again. I didn’t want to say it, but it’s a legitimate question.

Wait for a seemingly inevitable coaching staff change and the NFL Draft, where a decent pick can be added to a needy roster if general manager Chris Ballard does indeed know his stuff.

Of those waiting points, only the one involving Brissett and his sack collection is answerable during the final four games of the season for the 3-9 Colts.

I’ve thought all along that Brissett, playing in place of Luck, isn’t a starting-level quarterback. He’s a capable fill-in for the short term and maybe there’s a scenario where he could turn into a starter over time once he gets back up off the ground.

Brissett has been sacked 47 times in 12 games, the most in the NFL. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is second with 39.

The most sacks for Luck was 41 in 16 games as a rookie and 41 in 15 games last season, which may or may not be an indictment of the Colts offensive line. The sack total should be shared by quarterback and line. Brissett holds onto the ball too long and Luck has (had?) a tendency to try to extend plays too long.

The legendary Peyton Manning, meanwhile, was never sacked more than 29 times in a season and had 11 seasons where he was sacked fewer than 20 times. It wasn’t because of Manning’s terrific mobility.

Brissett’s 47 sacks is far behind the NFL record of 76, suffered by David Carr of the Houston Texans in 2002. With four games left, he could, however, challenge the Colts record. Jeff George was sacked 56 times in 1991.

“Physically, it’ll take its toll,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano told reporters Monday.

Mentally, this season has taken a toll on everyone in the Colts organization. You don’t have to be in the locker room to see that.

Luck, when healthy, can carry a team on his back and cover up a lot of deficiencies because of his ability to lead the offense in shootouts, comebacks, etc. But his inability to return this season was made worse by the Colts’ seeming optimism and hints that he would return up to the moment he was placed on injured reserve.

Adding to frustration, of course, were all those games where the Colts had leads at halftime, even to the fourth quarter, only to squander them down the stretch.

“Again, nobody likes where we’re at as a football team, numbers and all those things,” Pagano said. “Because really the only thing that matters is winning and losing. At the end of the day, we’re sitting where we’re sitting and nobody likes where we’re at.”

This season, something of an extension of the previous two where the Colts finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs, has challenged Colts fans’ patience. It has challenged their loyalty. It has challenged their commitment.

Change is coming, good or bad. Some of the Colts’ better-known names will be free agents in 2018, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, running back Frank Gore, cornerback Darius Butler, guard Jack Mewhort and wide receiver Donte Moncrief.

Are Vinatieri and Gore too old? Is Mewhort too fragile? Is Moncrief unlikely to ever live up to his perceived potential?

All Colts fans can do is wait and see.

Which is better than what they’ve been doing most of this season: Waiting and covering their eyes.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.

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