There is no way around it; the Cleveland Browns are in an odd situation this year, in regards to the man under center for the 2022-23 season. There hasn’t been a lack of national attention or drama surrounding the quarterback position, dating back to last football season. Headlines surrounding the likes of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and various others were just the start of the quarterback controversy.
In the 2022 offseason, the Browns made the risky move to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Texans via trade, in light of their own quarterback struggles in 2021 and amid the allegations surrounding Deshaun Watson. This also transitioned into the trade and departure of Baker Mayfield, with a new home with the Panthers. On field, the acquisition is obvious. Deshaun Watson has been among the top 10-15 quarterback’s in the league when on the field, with an argument to be made that he could be higher on that list. But, this move was not without risk. As of now, Deshaun has been handed a six game suspension in the light of the ongoing investigation. This is subject to change, as the NFL has appealed Sue L. Robinson’s ruling.
As we await the final verdict of the appeal/suspensions, in light of a six game suspension, Cleveland fans don’t need to panic about the short term. What has seemingly been forgotten or gone under the radar is the acquisition of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. To those who are unaware, Brissett has long been a backup quarterback for the majority of his career, dating back to the 2016 season. While this does not immediately invoke confidence to the average fan, Brissett has been one of the top backup/stand in QB’s in the NFL since arriving in 2016.
Though Baker Mayfield’s time in Cleveland has always been that of much debate, if I were to tell you that you were getting similar production to his during Deshaun’s six game suspension, what would your initial reaction be? This would all be opinion of coarse, but to most, the belief would be that you could do a lot worse, especially in regards to the competition in Cleveland’s quarterback history. With Cleveland’s roster, production on Baker’s level would still make the Browns a competitive team in most games. While Baker will no longer be in Cleveland, they do have a quarterback that comes close to matching the production of Baker Mayfield, when given time to run the offense consistently.
Meet Jacoby Brissett.
The easiest way to compare Jacoby to Baker would be taking the 2019 season where Jacoby started 15 games for the Indianapolis Colts, as this was his most consistent amount of time as a starter. The lone argument for an undoubted edge for Baker would be that for his career, he has averaged 235.4 yards per game, while Brissett averaged 196.1 yards per game in 2019. Considering the surrounding components at running back on receiver in 2019, 39 yards does truly appear to be a large margin, if there is much at all. The same argument could be made in regards to touchdowns when factoring the rest of the roster, as Baker has averaged 23 touchdowns per season, while Jacoby threw for 18 touchdowns in the 2019 season. It’s not hard to imagine that Jacoby could have greater success with a roster featuring Chubb, Hunt, Cooper, Peoples-Jones, Hooper and Njoku. In 2019 the Colts surrounding weapons consisted of mostly Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Jack Doyle. To each their own, but Cleveland would appear to have the edge, especially in the running back department.
What should give Brown’s fans the most comfort would be how Jacoby values the ball. In 15 games in the 2019 season, Jacoby through only four interceptions. That would be an interception percentage of just 1.3%, while Baker has a career interception average of 2.9%. If I told you that you could have similar production to Baker with less turnovers for the six games that Deshaun is unable to play, I find it hard to imagine that too many would be disappointed.
In fact, the Browns could easily win four to five of the six games that Deshaun is suspended when looking at these stats in the six teams that the Browns will play in 2022. In these six games, the Browns will play the Panthers, Jets, Steelers, Falcons, Chargers and Patriots. Three to five of those games should be winnable for Cleveland’s roster, even with the absence of Deshaun.
It isn’t too difficult to imagine a world were the Browns and Brissett are quite productive, given Brissett’s productive 2019 season, while being taking excellent care of the football. Factor in better weapons at his disposal and a manageable schedule to work with, Cleveland should still be in the hunt of the AFC- North once Deshaun makes his expected debut against the Ravens on October, 23. Regardless of the risk the Watson trade is produced, don’t panic Cleveland fans. You may find that Jacoby Brissett is the perfect player to manage this team while we await the debut of Deshaun Watson.