The New England Patriots didn’t need rookie QB Jacoby Brissett to be great on Thursday Night against the Texans; they just needed him to be smart. Brissett was 11/19 for 103 yards passing, with no touchdowns or interceptions, and chipped in 48 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
It was a fine day’s work and an increased production over his 92 passing yards and 12 rushing yards in week 2. And it was exactly what the Patriots needed.
Brissett wasn’t great, or even good, but he protected the football and allowed the players around him to produce. He followed the game plan and got rid of the ball quickly to negate the Texans pass rush and to soften the run defense.
“With rookie Jacoby Brissett, the Patriots dropped back to pass on just 22 snaps, and they were quick throws,” Pro Football Focus analyst Sam Monson writes. “Brissett averaged just 2.17 seconds per attempt last night, which was almost half a second per pass quicker than Texans QB Brock Osweiler, and would be the second-quickest figure in the NFL over the season so far.”
Brissett’s week 3 time to pass trails only a week 1 performance by Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who got rid of the ball in 2.11 seconds on average.
12 of Brissett’s 19 targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, including 10 of his completions. For those doing the math, that means he was 10/12 on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and 1/7 on passes 10 yards down the field.
“On his seven passes targeted 10-plus yards downfield, he completed just one,” Pro Football Focus analyst Michael Renner writes, “and he had a pass on a crossing route to tight end Martellus Bennett that should have been picked off by Houston CB Jonathan Joseph in the end zone.
“On the plus side, Brissett did complete two of his four passes when under pressure and earned an above-average grade in that facet. Brissett’s biggest impact clearly came as a runner with his one touchdown run, and another good run on an option that picked up a first down.”
I feel like this is a pretty fair assessment of Brissett’s performance. He did well when he played within the offense by quickly finding receivers close to the line of scrimmage, but he didn’t connect on passes when he would have to be the driving reason for the completion.
Football Outsiders, an analytics website, considered Brissett the most league-average quarterback on the week, mostly thanks to his rushing ability. Brissett picked up 4 more yards than the average quarterback would have in his game scenarios, but -11 yards compared to average in the passing game versus +15 yards compared to average in the rushing game.
In other words, Brissett was an above average runner and a below average passer.
Hopefully Jimmy Garoppolo can play this upcoming Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, but if not, Brissett should have a larger playbook at his disposal. Brissett was perfectly adequate in his first start and there’s no reason to think he won’t be perfectly adequate moving forward.