The Indianapolis Colts were defeated by the Cleveland Browns 32-23 on Sunday. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers turned in objectively his worst performance of the season thus far, prompting many to question whether a benching was inevitable.
So far this year, he has thrown for five interceptions and four touchdowns. That is not exactly what Indy was hoping for when the organization inked the 38-year-old to a one-year, $25 million contract.
“No consideration of [replacing Rivers with Jacoby Brissett],” head coach Frank Reich said on Monday. “Philip is our quarterback.”
“My trust at the end of the day is that this guy is a Hall of Fame quarterback,” he continued.
“I have the utmost belief in him, and our team has the utmost belief in him, and you’re gonna have to live with some mistakes. We truly believe the good will far outweigh the bad.”
Rivers struggled badly on Sunday. He threw a brutal pick-six, could not handle Cleveland’s pressure at all, took a safety in the end zone, and then threw another pick that ultimately sealed the game for his squad. He finished with 243 yards and two interceptions, good for a 60.5 passer rating.
After the game, Rivers owned up to his poor performance.
“The interception for a touchdown killed us,” he said.
“The other one, I wish had back as well. … Obviously, the safety hurt as well. Give a good team, especially that offense, nine [points], and then our D really bowed up in the second half and played well enough to win. Offensively, we didn’t do enough to win.”
Reich, for his part, stood by his quarterback.
“You lose a game like this, and we all share in it,” he said. “Everyone shares in it.”
The Colts head coach then took it one step further.
“Philip is playing really good football,” he continued.
“That is the least of my worries. Philip is playing good football. You are going to have mistakes when you get in situations like that. I know we would want the interception back, but the safety, is on me.
“You take that away and you get that one mistake, in my mind, that was the big factor. That mistake was not the big factor, the safety, but the one big mistake with Philip was the interception. That is it.”
What a disaster. https://t.co/eTkZgzDawj
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 11, 2020
While Reich’s defense of his quarterback is admirable and in many ways expected, the numbers don’t lie. Since 2019, Rivers has thrown 28 total interceptions. That is third most in the entire NFL behind Jameis Winston and Daniel Jones.
With Rivers at the helm, Indy has amassed eight offensive touchdowns in five weeks, all while attempting 17 field goals.
The A.J. Green Era in Cincinnati is over. https://t.co/2aRN2C0o1h
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 12, 2020
It is easy to be swayed by the Colts’ 3-2 record, but it’s debatable how many of those wins should actually be attributed to Rivers. Moreover, two of the team’s first five outings came against the Jacksonville Jaguars (a loss, no less) and New York Jets, which sort of speaks for itself.
Last year, Brissett somehow found himself on Reich’s bad side despite being a perfectly fine, extremely affordable quarterback option when healthy. In 15 games played throughout 2019, he recorded 18 touchdowns and six interceptions on a 60.9 completion percentage. The Colts finished 7-9 and out of the playoff picture.
Nick Saban didn’t hold back. https://t.co/N3nkxBwj0k
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 12, 2020
Reich may not want to turn to Brissett at this early juncture, but the move could be inevitable. After a fairly easy next two games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions, the Colts’ schedule heats up with showdowns against the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, Titans again, Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders, Texans again, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
If Rivers handles pressure in those outings the way he did this past weekend, Reich will have no choice but to put Brissett in regardless of how he feels about him.