FOXBORO - Tom Brady is about to turn 40 and still playing at an elite level. Jimmy Garoppolo is the most talked about backup quarterback in football as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. So, where does that leave Jacoby Brissett? The physically impressive second-year pro is intent on inserting himself into the quarterback equation.
“I’m trying to close the gap every day,” he told me after Tuesday’s practice. “I just gotta go out there and do the best I can, do my job. Whatever else happens happens.”
- Postcard from camp, Day 5: Showing some fight
- Giardi: Edelman-Gilmore dust-up was only a matter of time
- Belichick on Kony Ealy: He's building his versatility
What’s happening is three players, all at different levels, pushing one another both on the field and in the meeting rooms. You might think that would be hard to do, what with the Greatest of All Time, Brady, as the lead dog. Not so fast, says Brissett.
“You go out there and compete against him,” he said. “Every day, he doesn’t allow us, Tom doesn’t allow us not to compete against him. I think that’s the standard we hold in our room. Jimmy, Josh [McDaniels], [assistant QBs coach] Jerry [Schuplinski], I think we do a great job making sure everybody knows when the time comes, you got to take the approach that nothing else changes.”
Brissett probably had his best day of this young training camp Tuesday and maybe delivered the best ball of the session with a dart deep down the left sideline to undrafted rookie free agent Austin Carr. That drew some oooooohs and ahhhhhs from a relatively small crowd in Foxboro and also got Brissett some love from a handful of players who, like him, are trying to work their way up the depth chart.
“Definitely kind of hard the first year [to take leadership],” said Brissett. “You don’t really know everything that’s going on. Year two, there’s no excuse to not knowing what’s going on.”
His coach, Bill Belichick, has noticed. In an interview with SiriusXM, Belichick spoke of Brissett’s growth.
"It will be interesting to see how it goes this year because his role is a little bit different,” he said. “He has a lot more experience and he’s certainly grown as a quarterback, but it will be interesting to see how that all manifests itself this year. I think he’s had a good training camp so far and it looks like he’s come back ready to compete and he’s definitely made some progress here in the last week or so. We will just see how that continues to go.”
Part of what makes it interesting in Belichick’s view is that Brissett has no clear-cut role to start the season, which is unlike last year. Health was also an issue, obviously, with Brissett ending up on injured reserve with a thumb injury for a period before being brought back late in the season.
“Jacoby is kind of in a unique situation," Belichick said. "When he started the year last year, we knew he was going to be the second quarterback with Jimmy, while Tom [Brady] was out. This year, that’s really not the way it is as we stand right now. Jacoby made a lot of progress through training camp and through the first month of the season, as you mentioned until he had the thumb injury. It took the wind out of the sails and then by the time he came back, even though he was participating, he had missed so much time. And at that point, Tom was back and Jimmy was in the No. 2 spot, so it really didn’t provide a lot of opportunity for Jacoby, certainly not the way the opportunity was there at the beginning of the year.”
Brissett didn’t necessarily agree with his coach on that point.
“I wouldn’t say so because you still get to sit back and watch and get to learn from those mental reps,” he said, adding, “but it definitely helps to be back out there.”