Only a matter of time before Cody Kessler is Cleveland Browns starter

Jun 7, 2016; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (5) throws a pass during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2016; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (5) throws a pass during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns have turned to Josh McCown as the starter, although his injury history suggests backup Cody Kessler might be starting sooner rather than later.

The Cleveland Browns have named veteran Josh McCown their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. The move comes after Robert Griffin III was placed on the injury reserve list, sidelining him until at least Week 10.

As McCown prepares for home opener, Cody Kessler is preparing for the inevitable – a McCown injury.

McCown certainly knows some of the Browns offensive personnel better than Griffin considering that McCown is in his second year with the team. His chemistry and leadership will improve the flow of the offense in the following weeks, something RGIII lacks.

“You’ve got to trust me on this one.” – Head coach Hue Jackson

McCown started eight games for the Browns in 2015 and the team posted a 1-7 record in those games, although he did not finish two of those games due to injury.

However, McCown finished the 2015 NFL season ranked No. 14 in total QBR among NFL quarterbacks despite only netting the one victory. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck all ranked lower in QBR.

Although, fans should keep in mind McCown is 37 years old, and missed half of the season in 2015. Injuries are an issue not only for RGIII, but McCown as well. So here the Browns are, relying on an injury-riddled, 37-year-old quarterback to lead them over the next 15 games.

All aboard the Kessler Express.

The Browns third-round pick out of USC, Kessler was head coach Hue Jackson’s prized selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Although mixed reactions from fans and analysts have led Jackson to ask Browns fans to trust him on the selection.

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“He almost completed 68 percent of his passes,” Jackson said in an interview days after the draft. “The guy has had a tremendous career. I understand where everybody is coming from, but you’ve got to trust me on this one. This is a guy that we feel very comfortable with, and we think he’s going to have an opportunity to ascend.”

Kessler is now No. 2 on the depth chart for the Browns and must be prepared to enter the game at any time due to McCown’s recent injury history. In just 2015, McCown suffered injuries to his head (concussions), right hand, ankle, right shoulder, ribs, and broke his clavicle in week 13 – landing him on the season-ending injured reserve list.

To think McCown will last a few weeks is a stretch, hence why Kessler is preparing as if he will play in every game he suits up for, including last Sunday.

“My mindset has never changed,” Kessler said. “I always prepared myself as a starter no matter where I was at on the depth chart, and that is the way you have to go about it. You cannot go in thinking, ‘I am not going to play. I can take this rep off.’ You have to go in the same way I did last week. Going into Philadelphia, I prepared myself as if I was going to play a game.”

Preparation is not a worry for Kessler as he exemplifies how a professional should work. His production in college was also solid, as he threw for 10,330 yards, 88 touchdowns and only 19 interceptions while completing 949 of his 1,259 pass attempts (75.4 percent).

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Obviously the collegiate level of competition differs drastically from the NF,L but experience is key – and it appears Kessler will get his shot in time. With Griffin injured and Kessler as the backup, the rookie quarterback is one play away from his NFL debut.