Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett is the odd man out with Deshaun Watson’s reinstatement, but he’s proven a lot this season.
Now that Deshaun Watson has been cleared from his suspension to start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, the odd man out is Jacoby Brissett — the erstwhile backup who completed 236 of 368 passes for 2608 yards, 12 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 89.1 in his 12-week stand-in role. Brissett is in his first year with the Browns after bouncing around the league from the New England Patriots, to the Indianapolis Colts, to the Miami Dolphins, and then the Browns on a one-year, $4.65 million contract.
What makes Brissett’s future especially interesting is not the body of the season; it’s what he did in the second half of his time with the Browns. From Week 7 through Week 12, he completed 112 of 162 passes for 1,282 yards, six touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 102.4 — eighth-best in the league. Brissett also rounds out his starting tenure this season ranked sixth in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted DVOA metric among quarterbacks, and sixth in DYAR. As DVOA is more of a play-to-play efficiency metric, and DYAR is more cumulative, that pretty much covers it all.
Moreover, it’s clear that Brissett has gained the trust of his coaches and teammates as everyone in Cleveland prepares for the bleepshow that Watson’s ascent will bring.
“It has been huge having him as one of our leaders,” guard Joel Bitonio said of Brissett after Sunday’s 23-17 overtime win over the Buccaneers that brought the Browns to 4-7 on the season. “He always talks about us and the team. Obviously, he never talks about himself, but I was thinking that we have to get one more because he has played better than 3-7 or whatever our record was before tonight. He deserved a few more wins in there, so I am glad we got him one more here, and you never know.
“I think he has done as good as he can be asked. If you just take Deshaun out of the picture, which he was out for a long time, it just felt like Jacoby’s team. Now with Deshaun coming back, I think he has a presence that takes a step back, but he is still going to be there for what he sees. He has played in 11 games now, and he has done everything you can ask of him. I really appreciate him, and he is one of my favorite quarterbacks I have played with.”
Safety and defensive captain John Johnson III took it further.
“It is love,” Johnson said, when asked how it felt to win Brissett’s final game. “I think he exceeded expectations, and the record doesn’t show how well he has been playing. He knew what he had to do, and everyone on the team was proud. Like I had been saying, it could be a spark for us in a change of position for us. We will see.”
Next season, Brissett has the chance to be somebody else’s favorite quarterbacks. And based on his 2022 tape — especially based on the improvements in the second half of his 12-week stretch — it’s possible that Brissett hasn’t just turned a few minor corners; he might be ready to be the full-scale starting quarterback he hasn’t been to date.