Skip to main content

Official website of the New England Patriots

Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Wed Apr 17 - 09:55 AM

Film Review: Breaking Down QB Jacoby Brissett's Role With the Patriots

The Patriots signed the veteran quarterback to a one-year deal in free agency, but will he start for New England this season?

Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett vs. Texans (Sept. 22, 2016)
Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett vs. Texans (Sept. 22, 2016)

The Patriots plan at quarterback is coming to light, with the first step being signing veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett as a free agent.

A former Belichick draft pick, Brissett is entering his ninth season since the Patriots selected him 91st overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Since then, he's had stops in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, and Washington, which, to some, makes him a journeyman quarterback.

Although it's fair to say the ceiling is likely capped on the 31-year-old, it's also worth noting that the Patriots aren't banking on Brissett being the high-upside talent in the quarterback room. Instead, New England is likely positioning itself to select a quarterback with the third overall pick from a strong class in the upcoming NFL draft to be the future. Right now, the two questions that pertain to Brissett are as follows:

1. Does Brissett give them a chance to be a functional offense so the Pats don't need to rush the rookie on the field in 2024?

2. Can skill players showcase and develop skills with Brissett at quarterback? In other words, can the offense function well enough to get a read on a likely young supporting cast?

After reviewing his film in Cleveland, the answer from this perspective is emphatically yes. Brissett can run OC Alex Van Pelt's offense to check both boxes. This isn't a de facto QB coach collecting a paycheck as a clipboard holder. Brissett can play and is objectively entertaining.

Table inside Article
Jacoby Brissett, 2022 Season Stat NFL Rank
Total QBR 62.0 8th
EPA/Drop-Back +0.12 10th
PFF Grade 82.6 12th
Points/Game 23.9 11th

In AVP's offense in 2022, the record wasn't great for Brissett (4-7), and some of that was his own undoing (more on that later). However, he played like an above-average starter before the Browns yanked him for Deshaun Watson. During his 11 starts, Brissett ranked eighth in total QBR (62.0), and the Browns averaged 23.9 points per game (11th in the NFL). Brissett was also more than just a game manager, making plays with his arm and legs, with a 4.5% big-time throw rate (T-10th best). 

Statistically, he outplayed Watson that season, and many thought he should've gotten a chance to start with the Commanders last season. If you extrapolate his 11 starts over 17 games, Brissett's full-season numbers two years ago would've been 4,031 passing yards, 22 total touchdowns, and nine interceptions—very respectable.

In 2022, the Browns defense was messy, leading to a change at defensive coordinator. Cleveland went from the 16th-ranked DVOA defense to first with Jim Schwartz this past season, so Brissett's defense under-performed. It's only fair to mention the Browns had a top-five rushing attack to support Brissett, though, so maybe those things offset.

Given the supporting cast he'll have at his disposal, it's a long shot that Brissett could have a late-career renaissance like Geno Smith. But it's worth noting that Brissett and Smith were at very similar stages of their careers. Smith broke out as a starter at age 32 in his ninth season, exactly where Brissett is now. Care to dream?

Realistically, the Patriots will take the 2022 version of Brissett while he keeps the seat warm for Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or whoever they draft. Again, everyone understands Brissett's role: make the offense viable while mentoring the future franchise quarterback.

Let's dig into the film to illustrate that Brissett can run this offense at a starter level for the Patriots next season:

Play-Action Pass Game

As we've mentioned numerous times, a significant aspect of Van Pelt's offensive system is marrying the run-game to play-action passes to generate explosive plays.

On film, that'll manifest itself with a zone-heavy rushing attack merging with moving pockets on bootleg and half-boot schemes. Cleveland would also use actions with multiple pullers to create misdirection in the defense and create single-high safety shells with the threat of the run.

For the most part, Van Pelt's offenses have leaned on two-man route combinations (example: post-dig) and three-level half-field reads off moving pockets. Unlike in the past, where the Pats would often attack the second level by using their gap/power schemes to pull linebackers out of passing lanes to throw seams and crossers, this is a more downfield approach.

As a result, Brissett's average air yards per play-action pass attempt ranked fourth among 30 qualified quarterbacks (10.3). Brissett also ranked 12th in passing yards per play-action attempt at 8.6, so the big-play hunting worked out more often than not for the Browns offense. Plus, Van Pelt's play-action designs cut the field in half to flood coverage areas of the defense and make the quarterback's reads easier.

In this example, the two-receiver personnel, jet motion at the snap, and blocking by the line signal an outside zone run to the defense's right. Instead, Brissett keeps the ball on the boot-action, and the offense's flow pulls the defense away from the passing landmark. The tight end sneaks out the backside to run a corner route, and with backside false-stepping toward the run action, it's a big play.

The other staple play-action plays are three-level reads off boot-action. In these concepts, the offense presents a short, intermediate, and deep option for the quarterback on one side of the field. Above, Brissett reads the boundary corner to the play side. When the corner playing the deep third in cover three jumps the intermediate route, Brissett throws the bomb.

Brissett has the arm talent and mobility to execute the play-action plays we'd expect the Patriots to major in under Van Pelt. The proof is right there on film from the 2022 season.

Drop-Back Pass Game

Although it's nice to generate explosives with easier-to-read play-action concepts, the game is won and lost in the drop-back passing game on third downs and obvious pass situations.

This is one area where Brissett will need to be sharper. Without play-action, the Pats QB only generated -0.5 expected points added and 6.7 yards per attempt. Brissett was great when he was throwing in rhythm, with those numbers improving to +0.15 EPA/drop-back and 8.7 yards per pass. However, he made poor decisions on extended plays (three INTs).

Starting with the positives, Brissett processes pre-snap information and attacks weaknesses in the coverage with ample arm talent.

Here, the running back starts flexed out wide in an empty formation before returning to the backfield. Based on the defense's reaction to the shift, Brissett can almost certainly say this is zone coverage because the defense bumps over rather than following the back in man coverage. The Browns run "all curls" at the sticks, with the inside receivers sitting between the zone voids. Brissett holds the strong hook inside as he's climbing the pocket and threads the needle to the No. 2 receiver.

Similarly, Brissett does well to see the entire field against a pressure scheme this time. The Bucs end up blitzing the nickel from the left slot, with the inside linebackers dropping off the line of scrimmage. Initially, Brissett wants to throw hot at the blitz, but the linebacker on that side of the field takes it away. The veteran QB doesn't panic, comes off the hot read with the line sliding out to the blitz, and takes advantage of poor short zone distribution by hitting the RB in the flat.

Along with solid processing to find open receivers within structure, Brissett also uses veteran savvy to pull defenders out of passing lanes with pump fakes and eye manipulation.

The Browns run a spot concept in this play that creates a three-receiver side. Brissett reads flat to spot in his initial drop, drawing the cover-two zone structure in that direction. Brissett works to the in-cut after helping create the passing lane, throwing the ball away from the middle linebacker to protect his receiver from a big hit over the middle.

The last element Brissett brings to the drop-back passing game is excellent pocket mobility and above-average scrambling ability to affect the game with his legs. Brissett routinely shows the ability to maneuver the pocket to find clear air space to give himself a throwing platform and extend plays, buying time for his receivers to get open.

This time, the Bills have good initial coverage on his first read (left side) while getting interior pressure in Brissett's lap. Brissett can bob and weave to elude the pressure in the pocket, allowing his tight end to work himself open against zone, and it's a good gain for a first down.

The other positive aspect of Brissett's mobility is the 28 first downs he ran for during the 2022 season. Although he doesn't have elite speed as a runner, he's powerful and more than capable of taking yards from defenses that don't account for his legs.

For example, the Dolphins are in a two-man coverage on third down. Two-man is a good scheme to eliminate in-breaking routes with inside-leveraged man defenders, but it's often not used against mobile QBs because there's nobody to take the quarterback. The sea parts for Brissett, and he easily picks up the first down.

As you can see, Brissett has all the tools to move the offense in the drop-back passing game.

Setting an Example for the First-Year Quarterback

The other angle to the Brissett signing that you'll hear is that he'll serve as a great mentor to a rookie quarterback. The Pats veteran can show the young QB how to be a pro during the week in his preparation and help him on game day by being another set of eyes on the sideline.

Those things are valuable to the long-term future of the quarterback room and manifest themselves on tape. The larger theme here is that Brissett can play at a starter level, but we should acknowledge that he'll also set a good example for a quarterback entering the NFL.

Brissett plays every down with an all-out effort and will do whatever it takes to win. For example, the Browns are running a reverse where deep safety Antione Winfield Jr. is the last line of defense. Brissett gets on his horse and pancakes Winfield to pave the way for the score. Not everyone will want the quarterback lowering his shoulder into guys downfield, a bonus of being 6-4, 231 pounds. Still, that level of effort can be contagious.

This is an even smaller thing as the Browns were closing out the Bengals. Brissett followed the running back after every run play on this clock-killing drive. Why? To be there in case the ball carrier fumbled. Furthermore, you can see him yelling for the back to get down in bounds to keep the clock moving. Again, it's a little thing, but coaches notice this stuff.

Brissett goes about his business the right way as a lauded locker room presence and fundamentally sound quarterback. That's what you want.

Areas of Concern

The overall impression of Brissett's film with the Browns and Alex Van Pelt was positive. However, we have to tell both sides of the story.

The book on Brissett going back to his days as a draft prospect is that he's generally accurate but not pinpoint with his ball placement, which is still the case at times. Brissett's completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) was ranked third among all quarterbacks at +2.9, but there are still instances where he leaves plays on the field due to near-misses.

Here is a very similar play-action play to the one we showed earlier. However, Brissett is trying to hit Njoku on an open crossing route this time. The throw is at Njoku's back shoulder, taking him back toward the oncoming safety rather than leading him into the sideline. As a result, it becomes an acrobatic contested catch that Njoku can't haul in to complete the pass.

In this example, Brissett does well to come off the covered frontside concept to the backside dig – great processing. But when he needs to adjust his throwing hallway in the pocket, Brissett doesn't get enough behind the throw, and the ball dies on him, forcing the receiver to scoop the pass off the turf. Eventually, the pass was ruled incomplete.

Those close misses can be the difference between being 22nd in completion rate and the upper echelon in terms of accuracy. However, in terms of direct correlation to wins and losses, Brisset also had some late-game turnovers that killed the Browns in his starts.

Brissett threw two interceptions on game-winning drive attempts. First, the Browns lost 31-30 to the Jets in Week 2, when Brissett threw a pick with 13 seconds left at his own 46-yard line. That one was more excusable because he was pressing to push the ball into field goal range without much time on the clock. However, he did it again a few weeks later in a 30-28 loss to the Chargers.

In this instance, Brissett resorts to hero ball despite having the Browns in field goal range to take the lead with 2:55 remaining. Cleveland's defense gave up 30 points and 465 total yards that day, so maybe the Browns wouldn't have held a one-point lead. Still, as a veteran, these are the types of plays that the Patriots can't have from Brissett – secure the three points and trust your defense, which should be very good in New England.

Although every quarterback has plays they'd want back, those turnovers can be the difference between 4-7 and 6-5.


There are reasons to believe that Brissett can be a very competent starter for the Patriots in a system that he knows well for the time being.

Eventually, Brissett will hand the keys to the quarterback the Patriots draft, and maybe that rookie will be ready to start sooner rather than later, which would be a great sign. Still, it's also beneficial for the Patriots to have a veteran quarterback that allows them to bring along the rookie steadily rather than throwing him right into the fire in year one.

The Patriots supporting cast also has a ways to go without a top receiver and starting-caliber left tackle currently on the roster, which could prevent Brissett from having a Geno-like breakout. Although it might be unfair, the bottom line is it's better to put Brissett in a disadvantageous situation than risk ruining the third overall pick by playing him in an offense that isn't ready.

With that said, Brissett's film as Cleveland's starter is better than the quarterback play the Patriots have gotten over the last two seasons, and we certainly wouldn't say he's the worst projected starter in the NFL right now (he just outplayed Watson two years ago).

Overall, New England's quarterback plan is perfectly sound, with Jacoby Brissett serving as the veteran bridge to a highly drafted quarterback.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

Related Content


Latest News

Presented by

Trending Video


In Case You Missed It

Presented by