The Cleveland Browns are currently prepared to roll into the 2022 regular season with Jacoby Brissett as the starting quarterback while quarterback Deshaun Watson serves his NFL suspension.
Once Watson exits team headquarters in Berea on August 30 at 4 p.m. to begin serving his 11-game suspension, the Browns will be in the hands of the veteran Brissett, who has made 37 starts in his six-year NFL career, with 30 of those coming with the Indianapolis Colts.
Jacoby's quickly established himself as a leader in the locker room pic.twitter.com/turHYnpfpR— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 19, 2022
It is a plan that has been in place from the moment that Cleveland traded for Watson in March and then signed Brissett as a free agent. While there was no idea of just how long a suspension would be for Watson, or when it would be handed down, the Browns knew that something was likely to come and determined that Brissett was an adequate insurance policy.
That confidence has not wavered throughout the summer and that is due in part to the level of professionalism he brings to the position, head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Friday (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“He is very much himself. Kind of talking about Jacoby earlier, he is himself, and he is not a very loud, boisterous guy, but – you used the word – he is thoughtful and he is very, very intelligent. I think the players naturally respect him for who he is as a player in this league and what he has made of his career to date. He is an established pro so the guys certainly respect him. I think what he does is he works and he does not say much when he works, and I think the guys really see that day in and day out.
“I think that is his personality. I think he is very authentic. I do not think he changes day to day, whether he is getting 100 reps or zero reps. He just goes about his business.”
It is one thing for the head coach to talk up his players - that is part of his job, after all - but Brissett’s teammates are also echoing that they like what they have seen from him so far.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper said that he can see Brissett’s experience when it comes to working with the wide receivers (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“You can tell he is a veteran. The thing I really like about Jacoby is he really understands concepts from a receiver’s perspective so it makes it really easy to communicate well. We know Jacoby. We understand what he brings to the table. We see him practice every day and see how hard he works. We 100 percent believe in him. He would not be back there if we did not. Again, not really worried about what outsiders say. We are just going to go out there and do our thing.”
The offensive players are not the only ones who have seen the impact that Brissett has on the team, according to linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“If you ever take a peek over there, Jacoby has the locker right beside mine. We have a lot of good conversations in reference to on the field and off the field. He is a smart guy, an intelligent guy and he has the capability to take us where we need to be.”
the team has confidence in Jacoby and he's ready to prove why pic.twitter.com/gFnJcardhC— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 19, 2022
Brissett has been in this situation before where he has been called upon to fill in for the starting quarterback, most notably with the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck in 2017 and 2019, and he believes that experience will serve him well this time around (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“It has given me experience in situations. I think that has been the key. Since I have got in the league, it has shown me how fast this league is and being the next man up and being ready whenever your number is called. I am excited for the opportunity and ready to go.
“I just have to be myself. I think being in a position of a quarterback on an NFL team, you can’t just one day do something and then the next day not do it again. I try to be consistent in being the same guy every day. I think that is what my teammates appreciate from me. I just continue to do that.”
Brissett is not on the same level talent-wise as Watson, but earning the confidence of the players around him can help close that gap a little bit.
And if Brissett can start rewarding that confidence when the regular season opens on September 11 against the Carolina Panthers, then the Browns may find themselves in a decent position when Watson returns to the team.