Jacoby Brissett completed 68.2 percent of his passes, threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns and it wasn't enough to defeat the Buffalo Bills.. He did everything he could to help the Browns win this game and it wasn't enough to win, which is every bit an indictment of the current team in addition to illustrating what the Browns are still missing at the quarterback position.
Brissett has overperformed expectations and negated any further conversations about acquiring another veteran quarterback. He's been valuable in a leadership role and excelled enough that Deshaun Watson was an after thought for most of his suspension, which was critical on a number of fronts.
But baked into some of the success Brissett is having is the fact that defenses are allowing it by focusing all of their attention on stopping the bigger threat in running back Nick Chubb. Brissett threw for 324 yards and Chubb rushed for just 19 yards. Chubb chipped in 48 receiving yards, which was a pleasant surprise.
The Browns had seven offensive drives that produced a combined three points. They were bookended by the first drive of the game which scored a touchdown, a Browns staple, and the last two drives that resulted in touchdowns when the Browns attempted to engineer a comeback.
Brissett isn't the major reason the Browns didn't capitalize on those seven drives. He would've had another touchdown pass had either tight end Harrison Bryant or Pharaoh Brown been able to come down with back to back passes that hit them in the hands.
The botched snap fumble had more to with Hjalte Froholdt playing at center in place of Ethan Pocic, who left the game with a knee injury. Brissett had nothing to do with the blocked field goal but he was involved in the drive that necessitated the attempt.
The problem is that they struggle with consistency. Too much needs to go right with Brissett in order for them to succeed. A holding penalty, false start or sack too often ends an offensive drive for the Browns. Brissett was sharp in this game, but teams count on the fact that he's going to miss a few shots like the one to Bryant where he had a chance to catch a touchdown in the back of the end zone but couldn't get the second foot down as a result of a high throw caused by pressure.
Brissett has done everything the Browns have asked. He is the quarterback that was in place as Amari Cooper proved to be the number one receiver the team has needed for years, saw David Njoku become a franchise tight end the Browns have desperately needed him to become and helped Donovan Peoples-Jones take the next step in his development, which may lead to a contract extension of his own. Brissett deserves credit for putting the offense in the position that Watson doesn't need to work miracles in order to succeed. If it's feasible Brissett can stay on as the backup for the Browns, that could be a move that is not only good karma for the Browns, but could a good will gesture that means something to the rest of the locker room. Nevertheless, Brissett is a backup for a reason.
Deshaun Watson, likewise, was acquired for a reason. The NFL is a quarterback driven league and the Browns spent a tremendous amount of resources to get their signal caller. His numerous off field failures weren't enough to deter the Browns from getting him and it's because he's really good at playing the most important position in sports.
The moment Watson takes the field, Nick Chubb's life gets easier. Defenses are not going to stack the box and send endless run blitzes at the Browns with Watson on the field. They're going to play far more two-high and try to stop Watson as a passer. Even if Watson isn't at the peak of his powers as he attempts to acclimate from his layoff, defenses have to take him seriously. That should create more running room for Chubb and enable more consistency on offense, fewer drives that don't get off the ground and more points.
Undoubtedly, the Browns would have a better record if the defense was better or if the special teams weren't a total liability. Beyond feeling better about the team if the record were better, it would be a far more accurate representation of what Brissett was able to do for this team. Even if that were the case, the Browns would still be in the same place they are now, waiting for their would-be franchise quarterback to unlock the potential of the offense. That's why they got Watson.
Still, with just one more game until Watson is scheduled to take the field, at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it would be great if the Browns could somehow send Jacoby Brissett off with a win. Hardly the most important reason they need a victory, it would still be a meaningful one.