The Cleveland Browns made it clear that Jacoby Brissett has no competition for the No. 2 quarterback spot and he will be the starter if Deshaun Watson misses the time.
The Browns brought in former first-round pick Josh Rosen before camp, and there was some bickering over the team looking at other options via free agency trading. However, head coach Kevin Stefanski made it very clear that if Watson is absent, Brissett is her man.
“Jacoby is our backup quarterback. If Deshaun isn’t available, Jacoby is the starter,” Stefanski told reporters at camp on July 27.
The trick for the Browns now is to split replays between Watson and Brissett as they prepare for the year. Both are new to the team, playbook and staff and will need time to work with the starters as the season nears.
“I wouldn’t go into the exact percentage, but they’re both going to get a lot of reps,” Stefanski said. “Really, they both got a ton of reps in the spring. I think the benefit of this offseason program was getting Deshaun a lot of reps and Jacoby a lot of reps. That doesn’t change.”
The Browns are hoping for an early decision from Sue L. Robinson, who is leading Deshaun Watson’s disciplinary case. Knowing how much time Watson will be missing — if any — can help the Browns plan their season, though Stefanski is only taking it one day at a time.
“I think we’ll just take care of it. That’s our mentality,” said Stefanski. “We’re going to deal with July 27, and then we’re going to get to tomorrow, we’re going to deal with tomorrow. This is how we work.
“That may be unprecedented compared to the rest of the league. For us, we’re just thinking about what’s ahead of us that day.”
Brissett, 29, has experience as a starter with 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions throughout his career. He has the support of his teammates when he takes the starting role, including star pass rusher Myles Garrett.
“He’s a very good quarterback,” Garrett said. “He’s a solid player. He will come and be a good leader for us even if he is not on the field. And when he’s on the field, I think he’s talented enough to win games on his own. I’m excited to see what he can do.”
The Browns brought in Rosen as their fourth arm to play alongside Watson, Brissett and Joshua Dobbs, though Stefanski didn’t sound overly excited about the move.
“We felt like we should add a fourth quarterback, brought Josh in for practice and obviously signed him, but I wouldn’t read too much into the timing,” Stefanski said when asked why they rose in July and not signed in March.
Rosen went 3-10 as a starter in Arizona as a rookie, throwing 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He hasn’t found a permanent home in the NFL since then as the Browns are his fifth team in four years. There’s a chance he could bring an inexperienced Dobbs into the training squad and take the substitute spot if Watson is out. However, Dobbs has been through OTAs and minicamps with the Browns and has the advantage of knowing the system.