After the undesirable, but not completely shocking, 2-3 start to the Browns’ 2022 season, player and coaching evaluations are pouring in. But, many of the armchair coaches and GMs are forgetting the preseason keys to victory which serve as a frame of reference for performance evaluations happening now. We need this frame of reference to properly grade in-game effectiveness versus preseason expectations, especially this early in the season. So, let’s revisit some of our preseason keys to victory.
Many of the keys centered around ‘bridge’ QB Jacoby Brissett, because he was the unknown variable. Many evaluations said we didn’t need much from Brissett, some said we simply needed a manager at QB, something Mayfield wasn’t able to do. Not a superstar, a manager. Meaning no multi-turnover games, making a few throws to assist the run game, handling some pressure and avoiding the big mistakes, and being a positive leader on and off the field. Pretty simple, huh?
The problem with these evaluations was that the evaluators were counting on the defense to be elite. Since the defense has underperformed and we have ignored our frame of reference, we are now changing the way that we are grading Brissett’s in-game performances. Brissett finds himself being evaluated on a sliding scale that directly correlates to the defensive performance for that week. When the defense performs as expected, all we need is a manager behind the center. When the defense falls flat, we need someone we can win because of at QB. Granted, this is ordinary for a starting QB in the NFL, but, just months ago, this wasn’t part of our preseason equation to win with Brissett.
Of course, we should be able to evaluate and criticize QB play no matter what, at the end of the day they are being paid millions to perform. But, what I am trying to say is that maybe we underestimated the type of performance the Browns would need from Jacoby to win.
Yes, Jacoby has thrown 3 interceptions. Yes, all three of those interceptions came within the last 3 minutes of three separate games, which all resulted in losses. But, let’s challenge ourselves to not evaluate based on recency bias, i.e. who made the last mistake. I wonder why all of Brissett’s interceptions have come at the end of games. Maybe because he was being asked to play a different style of football because of the situation.
In each of these games, the Browns’ defense set up the offense and Brissett to play desperately, making turnovers more likely. We are not losing these games because of Brissett. We aren’t winning them because of Brissett either, but I thought we were okay with that.
Currently, Jacoby has a career-high completion percentage of 64%. He is on pace to throw for 3,604 total yards at a 212-yard average per game, which is also a career-best. Not to mention, he has the 6th highest QBR at 65.9. The Browns’ PPG (Points Per Game) sits at 26.6, good enough to be the 6th best in the league. OPP PPG (Opponent Points Per Game) is at 25 a game, which is 23rd in the league.