INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton knew what he was talking about when he pointed the finger at the offensive line for issues protecting quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the team’s loss to Jacksonville last weekend.
The Jaguars sacked Brissett 10 times, tied for the second-most allowed by the Colts in franchise history. The embarrassing number of sacks caused Hilton to upset some inside in the organization when he said, “We’ve got to take some pride up front and block for him. What if we put them back there and take those hits?”
Hilton could have handled the situation differently, but he was right.
Brissett dropped back to pass 47 times against the Jaguars. He averaged 2.32 seconds in the pocket, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That was the 17th-longest time in the NFL among quarterbacks. Brissett averaged 2.46 seconds before attempting a pass. That was the 23rd-longest time in the league. He was sacked on a league-high 19.6 percent of his dropbacks, according to Stats & Info. To take it a step further, the Jaguars needed to rush five or more players just eight times, which was 13 fewer than the leader, San Francisco’s C.J. Beathard.
What those numbers indicate is that the Colts’ constantly shuffling offensive line was the prime culprit for Brissett to take the worst pounding of his NFL career.
“We get paid to do the job to keep the quarterback upright, and if we can’t do that, than we have to get better,” center Ryan Kelly said. “So, obviously 10 is — I give them credit but not that much credit. There’s probably some scheme stuff that I could have done better and so we just have to keep getting better.”
The Cincinnati Bengals, the Colts’ next opponent, don’t have the same type of pass rush as the Jaguars. The Bengals are ninth in the league in sacks, with 18.
But you can bet that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and his staff are closely breaking down film to see how the Jaguars recorded 10 sacks against the Colts last weekend. Why wouldn’t they?
The worst thing that happened for the Colts against the Jaguars is that they quickly fell behind. The early double-digit deficit made it obvious that the Colts would be in passing situations. That’s exactly what Jacksonville wanted because it allowed its defensive players to be in a nonstop rush mode.
An aggressive defense is going to beat a weak offensive line every time.
“They’ve got a really good defense, and they came into the game leading the league in sacks  and takeaways,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “We knew it. We just compounded it by digging ourselves a 17-0, 20-0 hole. When you become one-dimensional and they know, it’s hard enough when they don’t know it. But when they know you’re dropping back every time, that’s a hard job for anybody.”
The Colts, in particular offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, have to work on a scheme that will have Brissett getting rid of the ball even more quickly. If the Bengals get up early on Sunday, they’ll definitely send their pass-rushers.
“That’s what we’re working [on],” Pagano said. “We’re looking for answers, and it takes all of us. It takes all 11. He won’t make any excuses, and I won’t make any. He’s a young player. We all want him to be a 10-year vet today. He’s young. He’s a rookie in our [system]. How long has he been here? Week 7? In dog years, how many is it? 77? How many is it?
“I feel like we are in dog years right now,” he added with a laugh. “We’re all growing.”