4 Downs: The guts of Jacoby Brissett, Jedrick Wills, and a must-needed win vs. Buccaneers

The Cleveland Browns snuck out a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime. Now sitting at 4-7 on the season, the Browns get their starting quarterback back under center after an 11-game suspension as well. It was the first time we have seen the Browns rally for a come-from-behind win in quite some time as they marched down the field for a last-minute drive, then fought out a tough overtime period to come away victorious. And we got some great postgame quotes out of it as well.

On this Victory Monday, it feels good to be writing a winning edition of the Week 12 4 Downs. From quarterback Jacoby Brissett to left tackle Jedrick Wills and more, what stood out the most from this much-needed victory as the Browns now look to make it two-in-a-row against the Houston Texans?

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1st Down: Jacoby Brissett deserves praise for his moxy, guts

Browns Jacoby Brissett Buccaneers
Browns Jacoby Brissett Buccaneers

Browns vs. Buccaneers Jacoby Brissett. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett deserved this win more than any other player on this planet. Over this 11-gam stretch where he started for the Browns, Brissett has shown nothing but toughness, poise, and moxy under center. He will now revert to backup status with the return of Deshaun Watson, but his performances this season, and specifically yesterday, deserve praise.

He overcame several sacks, a slow start to the game, and a rough outing to lead this team down the field twice when it mattered most. Finding tight end David Njoku for a touchdown with 32 seconds left, then Amari Cooper deep down the field with overtime coming to a close, Brissett made big plays when the Browns needed it most against the Buccaneers.

His guts were most on display, however, came on the opening drive of the game when Brissett acted as a lead blocker for wide receiver Anthony Schwartz on a reverse. Brissett trekked down the field and threw a pancake block on Buccaneers’ safety Antoine Winfield Jr. as Schwartz marched into the endzone.

Brissett will go down as a fan favorite and among the best quarterbacks on a bad list over the past 23 years.

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2nd Down: The best players stepped up in the brightest spot vs. Buccaneers

Browns Buccaneers
Browns Buccaneers

Nov 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett vs. Buccaneers. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns continue to get production out of the likes of Njoku, defensive end Myles Garrett, running back Nick Chubb, and wide receiver Amari Cooper. However, this is the first game where one can confidently say the best players on this roster came through for the Browns when it mattered most.

Garrett completely took over the game in the fourth quarter and overtime, Njoku scored the game-tying touchdown, Cooper put the Browns in position to score by redeeming himself after a deflating drop late in the game, and Chubb does what he does best and closed out the game.

As the Browns look to build momentum over the back six games of the 2022 season, they will need more performances like this out of the premier players on their roster.

3rd Down: Remember Jedrick Wills for his full body of work, not the singular negative

Cleveland Browns Buccaneers
Cleveland Browns Buccaneers

Browns Jedrick Wills vs. Buccaneers. Brownssteelers 28

We are 11 games into the season, and left tackle Jedrick Wills cannot shake the label of a first round bust despite putting out predominantly solid showings. Replacing a future first-ballot Hall of Famer will put high expectations on a left tackle, as will the immediate dominance of Tristan Wirfs, who was drafted after Wills.

However, Wills is not playing anywhere near the level of hate he gets. Wills was graded out as an elite pass blocker in this win against the Buccaneers with a grade of 87.0 according to PFF. Wills has, without a doubt, had some abysmal showing this season against the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, and Miami Dolphins, but he has had even more more-than-solid performances as well.

Not only did Wills grade out well in this one (marred by an overtime holding call that gets highlighted instead), but his performances against the Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers and Atlanta Falcons deserve to be highlighted as well.

Wills is not playing at a replacement level, is overall a solid left tackle, and picking up his fifth-year option is a no-brainer for the Browns this offseason.

4th Down: Give M.J. Emerson all of the praise he deserves

Browns Buccaneers M.J. Emerson
Browns Buccaneers M.J. Emerson

Browns M.J. Emerson vs. Buccaneers. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Give rookie cornerback M.J. Emerson his flowers.

All-Pro wide receiver Mike Evans managed just two catches for 31 yards on the day, and none of them came when Emerson was on him. And Emerson made sure everyone knew about it. The third round rookie is playing at a high level right now and deserves the recognition he is getting as a result.

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With Denzel Ward regressing after a top-5 season a year ago, and with the continued battle with injuries that all of Ward, 2021 first rounder Greg Newsome II, and Greedy Williams have seen this season, Emerson stepping into the spotlight despite being picked on by opposing quarterbacks has been a massive development for this defense.

Emerson may not be the fastest, most fluid, and may still have raw ball skills, but he is tough, not afraid to come downhill and tackle, and willing to take any challenge head-on. He is the real deal and is just be getting started in Cleveland.

Extra Point: The media circus starts today. Can the Browns weather it and build momentum?

Browns Buccaneers Deshaun Watson
Browns Buccaneers Deshaun Watson

Browns Buccaneers Deshaun Watson. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

While the quarterback play may improve, and while the Browns may be coming off of a huge win over the Buccaneers, the distractions may just be starting. The media storm will be massive around Watson, especially this week as he returns to Houston after a tumultuous two years off the field.

The Browns will have to prove they can reel in and focus despite the media circus that is about to begin in Berea and beyond. Sure, the Texans are the worst team in football in 2022, but this week, and the next five after that, have the potential to get completely out of hand if this massive cloud cannot be weathered by the coaches and leaders in that locker room.

The talent they are about to see take the field is undeniable, but the baggage that follows is also undeniable. This is not a narrative on his talent or of Watson’s dealings off the field, but more on the leaders the Browns have surrounding the player. Will they come out focused against the worst team in football or will the distractions cause this team to struggle through a game that should be a relatively easy one?

Story originally appeared on Browns Wire