Jacoby Brissett hasn't shied away about the notion of being the Browns' Week 1 starting quarterback since he joined the team in March.
Brissett, a six-year veteran QB, is set to step into that role after the ruling Monday from Judge Sue Robinson stated the NFL should suspend QB Deshaun Watson six games for violation of the league's personal conduct policy, pending an appeal by the NFL. Watson will still be able to practice with the Browns in training camp and will split reps with Brissett, but the Browns now have an answer as to who they will need — and for how long — at QB to begin the season.
Brissett, whose entire career has been built by serving as a backup and staying ready, is next in line. That hasn't changed among the uncertainty of Watson's situation for the 2022 season, and it certainly won't change now that he knows what his role will be to begin the season.
"It's nothing that I'm unfamiliar with," Brissett said Tuesday. "I'm always ready to go when my number is called, and that's the case in this point now."
Check out photos of players and coaches working throughout camp
The Browns signed Brissett partly because of his reliability when he's been asked to play on short notice. He'll have longer than a "short" notice to start in Cleveland, but the Browns have plenty of trust in Brissett to be as prepared as possible to lead the offense for however long he's needed in 2022.
His history in the league explains why.
When then-Patriots QB Tom Brady was suspended for four games in 2016 and his backup Jimmy Garoppolo was injured in Week 2, Brissett got the call from Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Brissett was a third-round rookie that season and showed poise in leading New England to a win in Weeks 2 and 3 before he suffered a thumb injury and was placed on injured reserve the rest of the year.
When Brissett was traded to the Colts in 2017, he was again needed to play on a moment's notice early in the season. Backup QB Scott Tolzien, who was starting for the injured Andrew Luck, was benched in Week 1, and Brissett stepped in and was QB for the rest of the year. He went 4-11 as a starter and led the league with 52 sacks behind an injury-hampered Colts' offensive line, but his individual stats — 3,098 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions — could've been much worse.
No opportunity for snaps was more unexpected for Brissett than his chance in 2019.
That's when Luck abruptly retired two weeks before the season began. Brissett was announced the starter for the full year and showed some growth and reliability throughout the year, going 7-8 as a starter and completing the best season of his career. He passed for 2,941 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions and kept the Colts in the playoff race.
Brissett started five games with the Dolphins in 2021 and went 2-3. He split time with Tua Tagovailoa and totaled 1,283 passing yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions on 225 attempts.
The constant shuffling hasn't made life in the league easy, but it's built Brissett into a QB who feels he's ready for any opportunity.
"It's a little tough to get into a rhythm, but it's part of the deal," he said. "I'm excited for the opportunity to go out there, work hard, go to practice, get better, learn and be ready for when the time comes."
Brissett's Week 1 role with the Browns won't be on a moment's notice, nor was it unexpected. Head coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday that the Browns entered training camp with multiple plans for snap usage between Watson and Brissett. Now, the Browns have an answer on Watson's status and can proceed accordingly for the rest of camp.
So far, Watson has taken the bulk of first-team reps, and Brissett has stuck with the second-team. The Browns will continue to be fluid about how snaps are allotted between the two QBs leading up to the regular season, but the focus will shift more toward preparing Brissett with the starters against the Panthers at some point in camp.
"We need to get him ready to play games," Stefanski said. "Obviously, Week 1 with the suspension, we expect Jacoby to be in there. There is a point in our practice plan where we will shift gears, if you will, but for right now, we feel comfortable with the plan that we have."
Brissett has already become a well-liked and trusted leader in the locker room. He won the team's 3-point contest when the Browns went to the Cleveland Cavaliers' practice facility and arrived in Cleveland having already built a close bond with another highly-respected teammate on the other side of the ball: Anthony Walker Jr.
Walker has been a voice of the locker room ever since he joined the Browns in 2020. The sixth-year LB veteran was teammates with Brissett for four years in Indianapolis and saw how he handled all the unexpected turns in his Colts tenure.
He knows Brissett is built to handle opportunities like the one he has now in Cleveland.
"The No. 1 job of the quarterback is to control the game," Walker said. "I don't care what anybody says. I think all of the good quarterbacks can say that they are a game manager, and most quarterbacks you want to be a game manager and then you want your playmakers to make plays for you. He does that. He gets his guys the ball in space."
Brissett will be ready, too, but not until training camp is complete. He's still a new QB and must establish chemistry with his receivers. He's eager to see what start he's able to build with four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper, a promising young wideout in Donovan Peoples-Jones and a six-year veteran in-line for his biggest role yet in David Njoku.
He'll also have one of the league's best run games with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to help him manage the workload.
"I'm excited about the talent we have on this team," he said. "The way those guys have worked and come in and prepare for practice and games is exciting, and I'm looking forward to continuing that growth."
But Brissett knows he still needs time for the group to come to full fruition and be ready for when he takes the first snap of the 2022 season.
That scenario has normally happened for him on short notice. Now, he has a little over a month to prepare to lead a team that is expecting him to bring the same level of reliability and trust he's shown over the course of his career.
"It feels good that you have that trust among an organization," he said. "I'm excited for the opportunity. I have extreme confidence in myself and my abilities. We're a long way from Week 1, so we just have to continue to get better."