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Practice notes | Jacoby Brissett wants to 'be myself' in first start of 2023

12272023 WK17 Wednesday Practice KC48567

Jacoby Brissett kept it simple when asked if he thought he would need to wait until Week 17 to get a start when he first signed with the Washington Commanders.

"Hell, no," he said with a laugh.

It certainly wasn't part of Brissett's plan when he signed a one-year deal with Washington to compete with second-year quarterback Sam Howell for the starting job after one of his most successful seasons as a pro. He came to the DMV with the mindset that he was going to compete, although he eventually lost out on the job to start the season with Howell getting the nod in last stretch of training camp.

Brissett knows that you have to make the most of the cards you're dealt in the NFL, and for the last two weeks, he's had some winning hands. He's had to come in twice for Howell, and while his 78% completion rate and three touchdowns haven't been enough for the Commanders to rally, they did show that at 31 years old, he's still got enough in him to be a competent player.

Now that he's been named the Commanders' starter for at least Week 17, he plans to make the most of those cards, too.

"Just go out there and be myself," Brissett said. "Go try and play good football, play clean and obviously the coaches make the decision as far as who plays and who doesn't play. But I was just going out there, just being myself and trying to give our team a chance."

Though he faced double-digit deficits in both matchups against the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams, Brissett did what he could to make the Commanders competitive. It nearly worked in both games, too. In the seven drives Brissett has been under center, the offense has scored five touchdowns. 

The concepts Brissett has run are the same as those Howell dealt with, but it's clear how different the offense has looked with the former in the lineup. Most of that comes from Brissett being in the league for far longer with 48 starts over eight seasons. Nowhere is that clearer than in Brissett's knowledge of the West Coast system. His familiarity with it goes back to his days with the Indianapolis Colts, where he started during the 2017 and 2019 seasons. 

Those were also Brissett's best seasons, combining for 6,040 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

That knowledge allowed Brissett to step right in and light a fire in the offense. He's been able to calmly break down coverages, stand tall in the pocket and take what defenses have given him. That has led to him getting the ball out quickly and let his playmakers shine at times. Nearly one-third of his 224 yards have come after the catch.

But Brissett isn't afraid to take his shots, either. Two of his passes to Terry McLaurin against the Rams were for 29 and 48 yards, both of which took advantage of McLaurin winning against man coverage.

"I think he does a good job," McLaurin said of Brissett. "I think he's really good pre-snap of having a good idea or feel of where he's gonna go with the football. Depending on what the look is post-snap, he can either confirm what he's seeing, or he knows how to work the other side of the field."

The biggest challenge has been getting to know Eric Bieniemy, who has called plays and been an offensive coordinator in his previous stint with the Kansas City Chiefs but is also in his first season of taking sole responsibility for those tasks. Brissett has already learned "a lot" about Bieniemy as the backup, but he expects to learn more now that he's the starter.

"[I'm] excited about this week and going out there and getting a chance to be fully involved in the game planning and putting together something that helps me and puts me in the best position, but also helps put the team in the best position as well," Brissett said. 

From what he has already seen, Bieniemy is impressed with the quarterback.

"With a veteran like Jacoby, who's been in this game for a while and who's the ultimate professional, he stepped in, and I thought he rose to the occasion, and he gave us life, and he gave us a spark," Bieniemy said.

Brissett had to step in at the last minute before. He faced similar situations with the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns in the previous two seasons. He had a losing record as a starter, going a combined 6-10, but he played well with a completion rate of 63.4% and 17 touchdowns. 

So, even though he hasn't been as involved in the game plan or worked with the starting receivers as much, he knows how to get up to speed at a quicker pace.

"I think for me it's just obviously trying to fast track a lot of the things," Brissett said. "That's how my brain works. Get on the same page with a lot of the guys, the offensive line and the skill positions, and then just from there, just going out there and being myself and going to play football."

Brissett had to face a talented defense last week against the Jets, and his first start of the season isn't going to be any easier. The 49ers, led by Fred Warner and Nick Bosa, will be highly motivated for a bounce back performance after allowing 33 points to the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas. 

As daunting as the challenge will be, Brissett's approach isn't going to change.

"Just got to go play clean, good football and obviously they're a good team all-around, good offense, good defense, good special teams," Brissett said. "In this league, you just got to play clean football and any Sunday, anything can happen. So, you give yourself the best chance when you go out there and play clean football."

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