Cleveland Browns: Thank you, Jacoby Brissett

Browns, Jacoby Brissett. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Jacoby Brissett. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns have had countless starting quarterbacks since their return in 1999, but Jacoby Brissett might be the most likable of them all.

As Deshaun Watson comes back, the Cleveland Browns sit at 4-7 through 11 games. Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been the starter in Watson’s absence due to suspension, and  Brissett’s time under center came to an end following Sunday’s win.

One may look at the 4-7 record and think Brissett did a poor job while the team waited for Watson to return, but he was honestly not the problem most of the time. The defense and special teams have cost the Browns more games than anything else.

It is a lot to ask for a guy to start for a team he knows he will eventually be handing back over to another quarterback, especially under the ugly circumstances. Many guys, including former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, would not have been able to handle that well. His play aside, Jacoby was simply a guy that was easy to root for.

Between his sense of humor, press conferences, and interactions with teammates, it was hard not to smile or laugh when he appeared on screen. You could really tell that he enjoyed every moment. He played with passion, and grit, and he left everything on the field each game.

Taking a look at Brissett’s 2022 campaign with Browns

There were more than a few times this season that Brissett looked like a backup quarterback. Whether he held onto the ball for too long resulting in a sack, made a bad pass, or simply made a bad decision, it definitely was not perfect. Despite the bad, there was plenty of good. Maybe even more than most people predicted.

Brissett’s final start against the Buccaneers was one to remember. Defeating his former teammate Tom Brady was pretty poetic, especially considering it was in a thrilling overtime game. Brissett looked rocky at times, but as usual, he played with plenty of heart. He threw a block on safety Antoine Winfield to help Anthony Schwartz get to the end zone on a trick play and he threw the game-tying touchdown to David Njoku, who made a spectacular catch in the end zone with 32 seconds left in regulation.

When looking at the numbers, Brissett was one of the most efficient signal callers in all of the NFL this season. He arguably enjoyed his best season as a starter, finishing with 2,608 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, and a career-high 89.1 rating. In addition to that, he finished with a 61.2 QBR rating, which ranks 7th in the NFL, and a Pro Football Focus grade of 82.5. He played remarkably for most of the season and it is a shame the team as a whole couldn’t have gotten him more wins as a starter, because 4-7 doesn’t feel right in terms of how well he has played.

Where he goes from here

Brissett will be a free agent at the end of this season. While it would be nice to have him as a very capable backup, he has undoubtedly earned a chance to compete for a starting job elsewhere.

There will be several teams that need a quarterback in 2023, so maybe Brissett can seize another opportunity. Maybe Cleveland was what he needed to revive his career a bit. We’ve seen it happen with Geno Smith in Seattle, so it isn’t out of the question.

This is Deshaun Watson’s team now, but Browns fans will be forever grateful for what Brissett did for the team in his absence. The win/loss record might not be where they needed it to be at this point, but he left everything out on the field each week. It is weird to say, but he is one of the best starting quarterbacks the Browns have had since 1999, and he might be the easiest to root for as well. We wish him the best in the next chapter of his career.