"The jury is still out," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said during his season-ending news conference Thursday. "That's why we did the short-term deal with Jacoby. One, to give us some security that we had a player we knew we liked and could go forward with. But also, two, to give us time to figure out if he is the guy or not.
"Jacoby did a lot of good things. He also did some things that I think he would tell you he needs to get better at. But it's a constant evaluation."
Ballard's comment is opposite from what he said in late August, on the night that Andrew Luck shocked the sports world by retiring. Ballard said then that the franchise had complete confidence in Brissett to lead the team.
Brissett, helped by a strong running game, had 14 touchdown passes and just three interceptions through the first seven games of the season, including wins over playoff teams Houston, Tennessee and Kansas City. He appeared capable of leading an Indianapolis offense that didn't have Luck or Peyton Manning as part of the organization for the first time since 1997.
His play and accuracy regressed during the second half of the season, bringing into question whether Brissett was the right person to be the Colts' quarterback going forward. He only threw four more touchdowns and had three interceptions in the final eight games he played in while dealing with a sprained MCL -- which caused him to miss a game -- and injuries at receiver and tight end.
Brissett didn't complete more than 52.9% of his pass attempts in the final four games of the season, including just 48% in a Week 17 loss to Jacksonville.
"It's almost like the tale of two seasons," Ballard said. "At one point, the world is talking about him as an MVP. And then the next moment, they're talking about wanting to run the kid out of town. I mean, it's never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems."
Nobody expects Brissett to be Luck or Manning, but finishing 29th in NFL in passing yards per game (196.1) and 26th in completion percentage (60.8) isn't easy to deal with. Brissett put up those numbers despite taking the majority the team's first-team reps since offseason workouts last spring.
"I think there is some unfair criticism, but that is just playing the position," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "You are always going to get some unfair criticism. He knows that. We know that. Anyone who has played the position knows that and you guys know it too.
"We all have a job to do and he has a job to do. As a quarterback, you take that. He gets too much credit when we were doing great. When we were 5-2, it was like, 'Andrew who?' For seven games, he was playing great. He was that good. So yeah, he is going to get unfair criticism, but I get that. It's just part of the nature of the beast."
What the Colts have in their favor is the two-year, $30 million contract extension through 2020 that Brissett signed prior to the start of this season. They can go in a different direction at the position if Brissett continues to struggle.
"I'll say this: Right now, yes, Jacoby is our starting quarterback," Ballard said.
As for "right now," Ballard and his staff have the entire offseason to try to upgrade the quarterback position through free agency, trades or the NFL draft. The Colts have the 13th overall pick in the April draft.
"He's a young quarterback that's played two seasons," Ballard said of Brissett. "I'm taking that one out in '17 when he got the crap beat out of him. This is really his first season. I know we want guys to come in and light the league up right away, but sometimes they have to go through it and continue to rep it and see it.
"One or two years does not make a successful quarterback in this league. I think you can just look at the history of the position. Some guys have early struggles. ... He had a good start, good first half of the season, and did some good things in the second half of the season, too. We just need more consistency out of him. He knows that."
One player the Colts don't expect back is Luck.
"Look, Andrew's retired," Ballard said. "Do I talk to Andrew? Yes, I do. Haven't talked to him here in a few weeks. I'm sure he's been busy being a father. But Andrew is retired. I think we all need to accept that. That's where he's at. He's retired."