Jacoby Brissett did what he needed to do to grab the Browns their first Week 1 win since 2004.
In the final minute, the seventh-year QB veteran marched the Browns' offense 35 yards in five plays to position Cade York to kick the game-winning 58-yard field goal. The sequence was arguably the best Brissett looked all game — he completed three of four pass attempts to bring the ball to the Panthers' 40-yard line, the goal they wanted to reach for York's kick.
But Brissett knows the offense should've never been in that last-minute situation in the first place. Communication errors, throw decisions and execution were all far from perfect, and he expects the group to operate at a much smoother pace Sunday against the Jets.
"I would assume that it will be a much cleaner game from our standpoint," he said. "We addressed a lot of the problems that caused a lot of those communication errors and those things. Looking forward to obviously going into this week of practice and preparation to correct those things so that on Sunday, they're clean."
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the New York Jets Sunday
The miscues were evident from the start.
Within the first couple offensive series, the Browns often didn't snap the ball until the play clock was down to a few seconds, and that's because Brissett was still busy lining players up at the line of scrimmage and relaying the play call in the huddle. The Browns had to burn a timeout to prevent a delay-of-game penalty before their fourth offensive play of the game and ended up taking two delay-of-game penalties in the third quarter.
Such tasks aren't easy when a new QB is operating in a loud road environment in Week 1 — and Brissett admitted some emotions got the best of him at the beginning of the game, too — but he knows there's no excuse for the mistakes.
"I just think it was confusion," he said. "It all falls back on communication. I think that is what was one of our bigger issues, and it had nothing to do with the other team and it had everything to do with us. We have another week to prepare and to fix those."
Brissett also owned up to missing a couple potential deep-play opportunities on poor throws to WR Amari Cooper and RB Kareem Hunt. Brissett overthrew each of them for incompletions in the first quarter, and it's possible that both plays would've gone for touchdowns had they been completed — each receiver was open and had a clear path to the end zone.
Those plays come down to chemistry, which is something that will certainly grow among Brissett and the receivers over the next few weeks as they accumulate more live-game action.
"It's just getting more repetitions at it," he said. "That was probably our first time in game, live action. Can't miss those obviously, but something that we're going to work on."
Head coach Kevin Stefanski is confident the only direction for the offense to go is up — there were lots of mistakes that aren't uncommon to see in the first week of the season, yet the Browns still found a way to win.
"I could single out the entire offense, just operation," he said. "We were there in a loud environment in the heat. We did not operate clean enough, especially early. Put a lot of that on me, obviously. Also the quarterback, we put a lot on the quarterback, ask him to run that huddle and those type of things. I think he will continue to get better there."
The goal isn't to win every game in the final minute.
The Browns could have avoided that scenario with a smoother, more efficient offensive operation — everything from the time the huddle breaks to when the whistle blows the play dead.
And Brissett knows much of that progress starts with him.
"A lot of room for improvement. Definitely good that we were able to win in all three phases of the game, but a lot of improvement I know for our side of the ball. Looking forward to that challenge this week."