Jacoby Brissett has played better than the Browns' 3-7 record would indicate. A win in his last start against Tom Brady would be sweet. (Cleveland Browns)
Jacoby Brissett’s starting time is coming to an end with the Browns, but maybe not elsewhere
You must have an active subscription to read this story.
Click Here to subscribe Now!
Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …
Jacoby Brissett broke into the NFL in 2016 as one of Tom Brady’s backups with the New England Patriots. Now he will make his expected final start as Browns quarterback against that same Brady, who was 39 then and 45 now, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“You guys have to stop saying the ‘last start’ thing,” Brissett said. “I just want to win. I don’t care who it is against. Fortunately, it can be him. Just looking forward to it.”
Brissett’s disarming personality suited him well during his unique stint as replacement quarterback during Deshaun Watson’s NFL suspension. It’s a large reason why there is no awkwardness in handing the reins to Watson when he is reinstated next week.
Brissett has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,398 yards. He has 11 touchdowns vs. five interceptions. His passer rating of 90.7 is tied for 16th with Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota.
You can find metrics on the analytics Websites that rank Brissett in the top 10 of NFL quarterbacks. But the Browns are 3-7, mostly because of historically bad defense and annoying, unrelentless special teams blunders.
“Obviously, I envisioned us winning more games, but we didn’t and we haven’t so far,” he said. “Like I said, we have another opportunity to go out there and get a win this week. I signed up for this. I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. I didn’t sign up for easy. I wasn’t brought here for easy, and I knew I was the right person for it. I still believe that I am. I think I have shown that. Excited for this one.”
It'll be interesting to see where Brissett’s career goes from here.
He’ll turn 30 next month and is in his athletic prime. He’s probably never played better over such an extended period. Yet that 3-7 record can’t be totally overlooked.
“I remember saying this at the beginning of the year,” Brissett said. “This has been a journey that I have had to take week by week and just being present in this moment because I don’t know what is ahead. I have been fortunate enough to be around this league a long time to know that a lot of crazy things happen. I haven’t really thought about the future yet. I honestly don’t want to right now because of how much this week means to me. I am just looking forward to this week.”
But he does believe he has proved to the league that he can still be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
“For sure. Definitely. Like I said, that is why I was brought here is because the Browns understood that, too. Yeah, I think I went out and proved myself right,” he said.
Brissett has served as his own agent since he came into the league as a third-round draft pick. His contract is up. It seems the job description for Browns backup quarterback changes next year – from fill-in starter during a long Watson suspension to Microsoft Surface tablet-holder as Watson starts earning his $230 million.
Does Brissett want to be back?
“I can’t answer that question,” he said with that chuckle. “No disrespect, I am not answering that question.”
Newly appointed starting center Hjalte Froholdt missed practice with an illness. It’s understandable considering he draws Tampa Bay’s monster nose tackle Vita Vea in his first start at an unnatural position. Vea makes even experienced centers feel ill.
“He is a great player,” coach Kevin Stefanski said of the 6-4, 347-pound Vea, who has six sacks this season from the nose tackle position. “He is so, so physically just big, from a measurement standpoint. Then just the way he moves his feet, it is very, very rare to have a guy that size who moves laterally and is so powerful. In terms of the center position, he is a tough player for any center in the league. We understand that and understand the challenges that come with that.”
Stefanski said they are “working through” the center position after adding veteran Greg Mancz this week. Froholdt was pressed into the position after injuries to the top three – Nick Harris, Ethan Pocic and Michael Dunn.
In Tampa, Vea did not practice coming off the Bucs’ bye week because of a foot injury. His game status is questionable, so this potential mismatch for the Browns could level out by Sunday.
There are five Browns players who were not yet born when Tom Brady’s NFL career began on Sept. 3, 2000 (though he was inactive for that game). They are: receiver Anthony Schwartz (born Sept. 5, 2000), defensive end Anthony Wright (Sept. 5, 2000), cornerback M.J. Emerson (Sept. 27, 2000), receiver David Bell (Dec. 14, 2000) and kicker Cade York (Jan. 27, 2001) …
Other Browns who did not practice besides Froholdt were tight end David Njoku (ankle, knee), safety D’Anthony Bell (concussion) and cornerback Greg Newsome (concussion) …
Sione Takitaki will stay at middle linebacker ahead of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Takitaki is about 20 pounds heavier than JOK, which figures to help in the embattled run defense. “I don’t know that that has anything to do with it,” Stefanski said. “I think he is a physical tackler. He did a nice job. He was assignment-sound, which is half the battle.” ...
Stefanski wouldn’t share his conversations with Myles Garrett and Grant Delpit after post-game comments critical of the team’s defensive direction. “Both of those guys in particular are very, very committed to this team and very committed to finding a way to win this week,” the coach said.