It is fair to say that the Cleveland Browns have had more plans blow up in their face over the past few decades than any other team.
From bad drafting to poor coaching hires, bizarre free agency signings, embarrassing uniform combos and everything in between, the Browns have basically been the NFL’s version of Wile E. Coyote.
Related: Jacoby Brissett gets game ball after win over Tampa Bay
But there was one move made this past offseason that paid off better than anyone could have expected and that was the signing of quarterback Jacoby Brissett in free agency.
Brissett came on board knowing that he would be the caretaker at the quarterback position while Deshaun Watson served a suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. No matter how well Brissett played, once Watson was eligible he was going to be the unquestioned starter, but that did not stop Brissett from joining the team.
While Cleveland’s 4-7 record has left them just barely on the fringe of a playoff race, Brissett was not the problem. (Defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ ears are suddenly burning.) Thanks to the play calling of head coach Kevin Stefanski, the running of Nick Chubb and operating behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, Brissett led an offense that scored 23 or more points in eight of his 11 games.
“We show up to work every day. We’re coming to work. We’re not coming to lose. The guys continue to come to work. I was a small part in that. I was doing my job honestly. It’s not about me. It’s about the team.” - quarterback Jacoby Brissett to cleveland.com
If you take Brissett’s numbers and stretch them over a full 17-game season, he would have:
- 4,030 passing yards, which would easily be a career best and make him just the second quarterback in franchise history to surpass 4,000 yards in a season
- 18 touchdown passes, tying his career high and place him just outside the top 20 for touchdowns in a single season in franchise history
- a 64.1 percent completion percentage, a career high
The one stat that might define the Brissett experience the best is that he posted a QB rating of 98 or higher five times, but the Browns were only 2-3 in those games.
Notable graded QBs this season:— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 26, 2022
8) JACOBY BRISSETT — 81.7
9) Lamar Jackson — 81.2
10) Aaron Rodgers — 78.4
11) Tom Brady — 78.1
12) Justin Herbert — 77.7
13) Dak Prescott — 76.6 pic.twitter.com/qaVbavRnTm
Brissett was not without his flaws, of course, as he sometimes held the ball too long and took 24 sacks, and the offense often went unbelievably long periods of game time between touchdowns.
“He’s just a great dude. I mean, that’s the simple answer. He’s very engaging. He’s very, very intelligent. He’s extremely supportive. I gave him a game ball after the game just because he’s a team guy. He’s such a great teammate, and it’s all the things that nobody sees that he does in the locker room.” - head coach Kevin Stefanski to si.com
Despite that, Brissett gave everything he had each week, which is really all that fans can ask of a player and brought a level of professionalism to the position that was especially important this season given Watson’s off-field issues. The results may not be reflected as strongly as they should in the standings, but Brissett deserves all the credit he receives for the way he handled the situation.
Six weeks from now this Browns season will come to an end, most likely in the same way that 21 of the previous 23 seasons did with the team missing the playoffs.
“I love Jacoby. He’s one of the best teammates I ever had, he’s all about the team, all about the players, the culture of the team and you can’t ask for a better teammate than that out of anybody in the league.” - defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to cleveland.com
But Brissett’s contributions, both on and off the field, toward making the situation far more bearable is something that Browns fans should remember and appreciate for years to come.