CLEVELAND — When the Browns fell in a 31-30 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, it felt like the best game of quarterback Jacoby Brissette’s life was doomed.
It can still be hard to accept that idea. But it was almost universal, at least for those outside the drama-filled confines of the Browns cross country mortgage campus.
we were wrong.
Thursday’s 29-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium proved we underestimated Brissette.
Signed by the Browns on March 25, Brissette was considered a placeholder for Deshaun Watson, a game manager with a 14–23 record as a starter. After Watson’s 11-game league suspension was announced, many believed the Browns would have been better off with Baker Mayfield, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers. Some yearned for Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the San Francisco 49ers wisely decided to keep.
We were wrong in every respect.
In the last two games against the Jets and Steelers, Brissette has shown what he can do when he is surrounded by some of the top offensive linemen and trailing in the league. His passing rating in those two matches is 106.2, his completion percentage is 74.1. In three matches, the numbers are 94.3 and 66.3. He had a career-best QBR of 88.0 with the Indianapolis Colts in 2019. His best pass percentage was 62.7 in Miami in 2021.
Since his emotional and flabby Brown debut in a 26-24 win at Carolina, Brissette has zipped on the ball and made plays with his feet.
He showed just how much mobility meant to him on Thursday, when he moved from third and 1 to 6 yards from Pittsburgh 14 with an 11:32 in the fourth quarter and responded with a fist pump worthy of Tiger Woods. His advantage kept the 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive alive that lifted the Browns 23-14.
Brissette’s honesty in discussing her feelings about that drama gave a glimpse into why her peers are so devoted to her.
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“I was thinking about it because I’ve never been able to do that in a game,” Brissette said. “Every time I see a quarterback do this in a game, I’m like, ‘Dang, he’s so sick. I want to do this one more time.’
“I told myself that if I get sneaking, I’m doing it. I almost blacked out. The flow of the game, just being upbeat, letting your emotions show and not keeping things inside, just being present.” Live. “
The Browns’ October 2 game in Atlanta concludes a confidence-building portion of the schedule before being thrown under fire on October 9 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Browns will also take on the Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Dolphins, Bills and Buccaneers, ahead of Watson’s scheduled return on December 4 in Houston.
Brissette could be back down to earth against teams like the Chargers, Bills and Books. But the chemistry he’s building with four-time pro bowler Amari Cooper became the first Brown receiver to record back-to-back 100 yard games in nine years, and David Nojoku did well. The sub-.500 record with Brissette no longer looks inevitable.
Cooper sees something in Brissette being drafted by New England in the third round in 2016, even though Brissette is with his fourth NFL team, three in the past three years.
“I think he’s clearly proven he can win, but I don’t think he’s proved anything we didn’t already know about him,” Cooper said. “I don’t think he’d be in the league if he wasn’t a good quarterback at the moment. He’s been in the league for a long time, he’s a veteran and he’s a really good player. We’re really happy to have him.”
Karim Hunt was excited about Brissette running back.
“He’s doing a great job leading us and he’s also hungry,” Hunt said. “He’s the heck of a football player going out there and showing what he can do.”
Brissett completed 21 of 31 for 220 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers without a hitch and ran three times for 11 yards, something the Browns coach Kevin Stefanski got things for.
“He was solid. Didn’t start fast,” Stefansky said. “I have to get him to go fast and speed up my offense. Took some throws and some big throws in the big moments. Fought the fight. He’s doing a good job.”
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But the waves kept coming from Brissette’s teammates.
“Under pressure, he is playing right, reading right. He is very calm in the pocket. He trusts us and we trust him,” said All-Pro Right Tackle Jack Conklin.
“He’s done so well for us. He’s just a charismatic, natural leader. He has a standard he wants to play to and he wants to hold people up. It’s good to see that,” said All-Pro left guard Joel Bittonio Said. “He’s been around some great quarterbacks in the game, and I think he pushes himself that way.”
Brissette also has supporters on the defensive side of the ball.
“He’s ready. He makes phenomenal plays. It’s not like he’s just managing the game,” said freestyle safety John Johnson III. “He’s making things up, buying time … He’s running And the key is getting down first. He’s been incredible.
“The thing I like best is that I look at the scoreboard, and we scored like 30 or 29, so I think if we can score 30, there’s no reason why we should. Must lose the game.”
Going into the season, the presumption was that the defense would have to take the Browns until Watson returned. No one saw 28.3 points per game (seventh in the league) coming. No one outside Browns headquarters, that is.
After Brown’s visit to the Falcons, there will certainly be some tough times ahead. But so far they have been largely confined to defense and special teams. The run-heavy offense with Nick Chubb and Hunt has been efficient, especially with Brissett’s 6.5 average yards per effort ranking 25th in the league. The Browns rank ninth in the NFL with 378.7 yards per game.
Brissette has answered a lot of questions and silenced a lot of skeptics through three games, even though she doesn’t concern herself with outside connotations.
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“I’m not in this to answer anyone’s questions,” he said. “I am here to play good football, play for my teammates and enjoy the moment.
“That’s really what it’s all about. I can look those people on their faces and tell them I’m giving them my best. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Yes, we were wrong about Brissette. We were very wrong. So much so that in games designed to be an unintentional defeat, Brissette could give Brown a fighting chance.
Marla can be reached from Ridenour at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.