The New England Patriots designated rookie QB Jacoby Brissett to return from the injured reserve partly because the coaches want to get him back at practice, and partly because there was no one else on the reserve that could have returned in time. Since Brissett was elevated to the active roster on December 21st, he has been an active participant in the weekly coaching strategy.
WR Danny Amendola and WR Malcolm Mitchell have been battling injuries, so the coaching staff has asked Brissett to bring waiver-wire claim WR Michael Floyd up to speed. Head coach Bill Belichick sees this as an opportunity for Brissett to show off his understanding of the playbook.
“I think when you have to explain what you’re doing to somebody else it helps you understand it better,” Belichick said. “That’s an important relationship to have between the receiver and the quarterback...in this case we happen to be in a situation where that has I think, again, there’s a lot of benefit all the way around. I think it’s been good. It’s helped Floyd and it’s definitely helped Brissett.”
Brissett has also helped out in giving veteran QB Tom Brady a few days off to deal with a thigh injury. Brady did not practice on Wednesday and when he has taken the field over the past two weeks he has been limited. If Brissett were still on the injured reserve, back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo would have had to take on all the practice reps and help with the scout team. Brissett has offered the coaching staff more freedom.
“There are things [Brissett] can do to help the defense and, again, there’s times where he can take individual receivers and work with them,” Belichick said. “Again, we try to use everybody that’s available, figure out a way to be productive.”
When Garoppolo takes first team reps at practice, Brissett is responsible for getting the defense prepared for their upcoming opponent. This requires a deep understanding on the opposing offense.
“There are a lot of different components to [being scout team QB,” Belichick said. “How to read certain plays, mannerisms, cadence, audibles at the line of scrimmage, things like that. No-huddle tempo, like for example San Francisco, teams like that. The whole tempo, sometimes that’s more of a priority than something else. I mean look, it’s hard to get another teams offense down in a few hours but we try to prioritize it. ‘Here’s the things we need to see, we really need a good look on this, or this route, or this play, or this tempo, or whatever it is, this blitz, or this disguise.’”
While his return might not have received much fanfare, Brissett will be a vital cog in the Patriots playoff preparation and could ultimately serve as Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and Chiefs QB Alex Smith in practice. Brissett’s continued experience in practice should help him be a better quarterback in 2017 when he’s expected to be the top back-up option.