Fixing offensive line needs to be Colts' top offseason priority

INDIANAPOLIS -- This isn't about Jacoby Brissett suffering a concussion against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's because the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback was injured on a play where he broke the pocket and tried to scramble to pick up the first down late in the third quarter.

This is about the Colts' continued inability to protect their quarterback.

This issue started with Andrew Luck, who has reached the point where he's now in Europe trying to fix an ongoing problem with his surgically repaired right shoulder, which he originally injured more than two years ago. Then Matt Hasselbeck endured a pounding in that same season in 2015. The same with Charlie Whitehurst in 2015 with his limited playing time. And now Brissett is going through it.

It doesn't matter who the quarterback is, the Colts will continue to have problems until they assemble a group that can build some continuity, something former general manager Ryan Grigson repeatedly failed to do. That's why Luck won't play a snap this season as years of being hit over and over again finally caught up to him.

Indianapolis has given up an NFL-high 39 sacks and 82 quarterback hits this season when things weren't supposed to be that challenging for the offensive line. The Colts thought the line would be better because this was the first time that they returned the same core group of linemen in back-to-back seasons during Luck's time on the team.

But Le'Raven Clark was benched early in training camp, Jack Mewhort is out for the season because of a knee injury, Anthony Castonzo has been up and down at times, and the same goes for Joe Haeg. Center Ryan Kelly missed the first four games of the season because of a foot injury. Castonzo and Jeremy Vujnovich are the only two offensive linemen to start every game this season.

Luck -- or whomever is the starting quarterback next season -- could be looking at a different offensive line again next season because Mewhort, who has started every game he has played in his first four seasons, is in the final year of his rookie contract.

Brissett is doing his best to tough things out during this trying time. He passed the concussion testing on the sideline after taking the hit late in the third quarter Sunday. He returned to the game and was sacked twice in the fourth quarter.

Brissett was sacked 10 times and hit an additional eight times in Week 7 against Jacksonville. The coaching staff talked about taking him out the game because they were losing 27-0, but the quarterback didn't want to come out because he said it's his job to be on the field with the offense.

But at some point, the wear and tear of the constant pounding is going to catch up with Brissett despite his desire to take every snap. He'll remain in the concussion protocol until he's cleared, which hopefully will be before the Colts' next game on Nov. 26 against Tennessee. And hopefully the offensive line will do a better of keeping their quarterback off the ground.