Jacoby Brissett is excited about taking over a loaded team during the Deshaun Watson suspension. (TheLandOnDemand)
From afar, Jacoby Brissett has a Hall of Fame mentor pulling for him
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from Day 6 of Browns training camp …
Jacoby Brissett received a text message from Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells on Tuesday.
That’s not unusual. Generations apart, they are close friends.
In light of the Deshaun Watson suspension news, which makes it official that Brissett will be the Browns’ starting quarterback for at least the first six games of the season, Parcells wanted to reinforce one of his inspirational messages to the quarterback he’s been mentoring since he was 15 years old.
“I tell him, suckers don’t stay in town forever. You only get so many shots,” Parcells said over the phone from his summer hangout near Saratoga Race Course in New York.
Parcells, 80, always has spoken plainly to his guys. He has lasting relationships with players he’s coached. Brissett wasn’t one of them, though Parcells wondered how that would have went.
“I’ve known him since he was 15,” Parcells said. “He was the quarterback at Jupiter (FL) Dwyer High School. I knew the coach. I was snapping to him in two-minute drills in the mud when he was 16.
“I really love this kid. He’s a special kid. He’s a high-class, benevolent young man and has zero bad habits. He’s a good listener. He’s a big, strong kid. He’s durable.”
Parcells has always tried to keep his distance from impeding on Brissett’s pro coaches. He was hesitant to talk now that Brissett will be in charge of the Browns’ fortunes because he does not want to infringe on coach Kevin Stefanski, whom he likes but doesn’t know. But Parcells has maintained that mentor relationship with Brissett through the years and he wants him to succeed in the worst way.
“If anything, our relationship has grown,” Brissett, 29, said in April. “He won’t even let me call him coach anymore. I always joke and call him granddad. Our relationship has gone strong and way beyond football.”
Bill Belichick consulted Parcells when New England made Brissett a third-round pick in 2016. That year, Tom Brady opened the season on a four-game suspension. Brissett was thrown in as a raw rookie in Game 2 when Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an injury. He held the fort for a New England win, and then made his first pro start the following week in a 27-0 win against Houston.
A thumb injury and the return of Brady landed Brissett on the injury list the rest of his first NFL season. The next year, Belichick – blessed with a surplus at quarterback – traded Brissett to Indianapolis at the roster cutdown to fill a huge need at receiver.
With the Colts, Brissett was thrust into action prematurely again and wound up starting 15 games. Two years later, Andrew Luck shocked the Colts with a retirement announcement in the middle of preseason and Brissett had to take over on the fly.
Brissett had the Colts off to a surprise 5-2 start, including an upset win over future Super Bowl champion Kansas City.
“He stepped in, and he was a pro,” said linebacker Anthony Walker, a key player on that Colts’ defense. “He handled it the right way. People forget that we were a really good football team with him as our starting quarterback before a lot of guys went down [with injuries].
“Jacoby is a pro. He is prepared and he is going to prepare every day like he is the starter whether he is a starter or he is a backup. He is always prepared to go, and he is always ready, so he never has to get ready.”
Last year, Brissett signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins. He popped in early again after an injury to starter Tua Tagovailoa in Game 2. Brissett wound up making five starts for the team whose owner infamously wanted his coach to lose games for better draft position, and he won two.
Now Brissett is in Cleveland. He will be surrounded by undoubtedly his best supporting cast -- at least through six games, maybe more.
“Bill [Belichick] thought he was a good backup,” Parcells said. “Now, I think different. I think he’s better than that. I know I’m biased. I know he can be successful. You just have to know what he can do.”
On Tuesday, Brissett faced the media for the first time since the Watson suspension. For the first time perhaps in his NFL career, Brissett can train for weeks in advance to be the starting quarterback for his fourth team in seven years.
“I am excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I have extreme confidence in myself and my abilities.”
Parcells said, “This kid wants it bad, now. He’s not gonna shoot his mouth off. He’s been raised like that. I told him, ‘Nobody gives a [crap] what you think. Just get your team in the end zone.’”
Won’t go there
Until there is closure to the Watson case – the NFL has until 9 a.m. ET Thursday to appeal the six-game suspension imposed by Sue Robinson – the Browns won’t make the quarterback available to media.
Also, Stefanski is wearing out his “I will respect the process” line and declining to comment on the findings in the Robinson report. He was knocked on his heels for a moment when asked if there was any information contained in the report that gave him pause about Watson.
“I did read the report, like I told you I would,” the coach responded. “I will continue to be respectful of Judge Robinson and her ruling. I think that is really where my focus is.”
Center Nick Harris said that Stefanski addressed the team “and let everybody know the situation” about Watson’s imminent suspension and that Brissett would take over.
The first day of full pads results in a more physical practice, which sometimes leads to a skirmish, or two. Stefanski said he delivers the message at team meetings every night to work hard but not take cheap shots at teammates. As it was, there was a brief shoving match between receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie cornerback Martin Emerson, but it diffused quickly …
The line at receiver drills is getting shorter. Amari Cooper (ankle) joined Anthony Schwartz (knee) and rookie David Bell (foot) on the sideline. With an off day coming up on Thursday, none probably will be back on Wednesday. Stefanski still is expressing no concern, though GM Andrew Berry did add street free agent Derrick Dillon to the group this week after waiving/injured Isaiah Weston …
Punter and holder Corey Bojorquez (plant foot) was out a second day in a row. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and right tackle Jack Conklin worked on their own and were not on the injury report …
Stefanski expressed exasperation with a question about Josh Rosen not taking a snap through five practices. “We have to get all of these guys ready appropriately. Josh Rosen just got here,” the coach said. “As you know, there are not a thousand reps to go around. You have to be real smart about how you do this. The reps are coming, but we are taking the long view in terms of the next couple of weeks with those guys and getting them ready.” Rosen proceeded to take his first two snaps of his Browns career, completing a pass to Dillon and misfiring for rookie back Jerome Ford on the last play of practice.