MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP)Jacoby Brissett used to play for the New England Patriots, so it seemed logical to inquire whether he was picking Tom Brady or Bill Belichick this weekend in their ballyhooed matchup.
He wanted no part of that talk.
”Don’t ask me,” Brissett insisted.
His official stance: The storylines when quarterbacks face their former teams tend to be overblown. Having such an approach makes sense for Brissett this week, considering that he’ll be starting for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday when they play host to the Indianapolis Colts – the team he spent the most recent four seasons with.
”It makes it more than what it is,” Brissett said. ”I’m not here for like a revenge game or anything like that. I want to go win just because I’m playing football and I’m playing in the National Football League. We need a win, so that’s what the purpose of this game is.”
Brissett might be downplaying the former-team factor, but he’s unmistakably right on one point: Both sides need a win.
The Dolphins are 1-2; of the 17 Miami teams that started 1-3 or worse, only one made the playoffs. Last year’s Dolphins started 1-3, then finished 10-6 but missed the postseason anyway. And the Colts are 0-3; they’ve been 0-4 only once since 1998, sputtering to such a start in 2011.
”When you’re 0-3, what happens is you get reminded that the best way to get the results you want is to focus on the expectations and commitment that you have to each other and to getting better every day,” Colts coach Frank Reich said.
”When you get obsessed with, `I’ve got to win,’ I just think that that creates dynamics that aren’t healthy, when you obsess on the results.”
It’s not as if the Colts are a woebegone 0-3. They faced a seven-time Pro Bowler in Seattle’s Russell Wilson in Week 1, 2009’s No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford and the Rams in Week 2, then 2012 first-round pick Ryan Tannehill and Tennessee last week.
Not exactly slouches.
”This is a good team,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said of the Colts. ”I would say it’s a very good team. I know they’ve played some tough opponents. They’ve been in every game. They’ve got good players. They’ve got good coaches. They’re skilled. Every game is a meaningful game in this league. They’re looking for a win and we’re looking for a win.”
And Brissett – the South Florida native who’ll start a home game for Miami for the first time – doesn’t think there’s anything else worth thinking about.
”Jacoby, he’s a good quarterback, smart guy,” Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. ”It’s going to be fun going against him. He’s a competitor.
South Florida is a special place for Reich.
In November 1984 at the now-demolished Orange Bowl, the quarterback led Maryland’s historic comeback from a 31-0 deficit against the then-No. 6 Miami Hurricanes. Reich came off the bench in the second half and went 12 of 15 for 260 yards, with three touchdown passes and one scoring run in the 42-40 victory. It was the largest rally in FBS history at the time.
He was also a Colts intern when they beat Chicago to win the Super Bowl in February 2007 – in the same stadium where he’ll coach Sunday.
THIRD DOWN STRUGGLES
Miami was the NFL’s best team defending third downs last season, allowing opponents to convert them 31.2% of the time.
This season, they’ve been the NFL’s worst in that department – allowing conversions at a 59.1% rate.
”At the end of the day, our opponents are making more plays than we are. It’s just as simple as that,” Flores said. ”Good throws, good catches, contested catches. … The difference between winning and losing those plays, it’s small.”
Mounting injuries are a big problem for Indianapolis’ offensive line.
Two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher spent most of the offseason recuperating from a torn Achilles. All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson and center Ryan Kelly each missed three weeks of training camp. Right tackle Braden Smith sat out the past two games with a strained foot and now Nelson’s streak of 54 consecutive starts – every game in his career – is in jeopardy because of a sprained right ankle.
”It’s probably not looking good for Quenton,” Reich said.
Indianapolis is playing at Miami for only the second time since 2009. The Dolphins picked this weekend as the one to honor the life of Don Shula; the Hall of Fame coach who led both the Colts and Dolphins who died in 2020.
The pandemic prevented the Dolphins from going forward with plans for a public celebration of Shula’s life last season.
Wentz said his right ankle is still a problem, after playing with two sprains last week at Tennessee. Brett Hundley will remain second on the depth chart with second-year quarterback Jacob Eason in the No. 3 slot.
”It’s definitely in a better place than last week,” Wentz said.
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed.
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