The Cleveland Browns have started the season 0-4, but rookie quarterback Cody Kessler has shown enough to deserve patience from the coaching staff.
The Cleveland Browns are now the only winless team in the NFL after a 31-20 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Third-string rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, however, has displayed decent composure despite the fluidity of the offensive line and a young receiving core.
In his two starts this season, Kessler has a completion percentage of 67.1 and a quarterback rating of 83.5. Those stats are quite impressive and certainly exceeding expectations considering the Browns’ circumstances.
“These guys are awesome and there are no other guys I’d rather be playing with.” – Quarterback Cody Kessler
Veteran Josh McCown is inching closer to returning from his injury sustained in Week 2. However, it’s unknown if he will start when healthy due to Cleveland’s current youth movement. McCown obviously has better arm strength and experience compared to Kessler, but after a 0-4 start the Browns need to proceed forth with the rookie.
Against the Washington Redskins, Kessler went 28-of-40 for 223 yards including a touchdown and interception. Kessler showed a great amount of poise and seemed much more comfortable taking the field in his second career start.
“I was more comfortable, but it hurts as bad as the last one,” Kessler said after Sunday’s loss. “I love this team and they’ve welcomed me with open arms these last two weeks. I just care so much about these guys and the city and everything, and that’s why it hurts me because I’ve put everything I can into that and so has everyone else on the team. These guys are awesome and there are no other guys I’d rather be playing with.”
Kessler had the Browns in a solid position to win the game with a 20-17 third-quarter lead while in the red zone. However, fullback Malcom Johnson fumbled the ball on his first career carry and the Redskins recovered. From that point on, the Browns lost their momentum and couldn’t find a way back in the game.
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Carson Wentz has shined for the Philadelphia Eagles as they have started the NFL season with a 3-0 record, leading the NFC East. Of course, the Browns opted to trade away the No. 2 pick in April (which was Wentz) to the Eagles since they didn’t believe he was a franchise quarterback.
In exchange, the Browns got Philadelphia’s 2017 first-round pick as well as a handful of others. Clearly, that pick isn’t as valuable as many anticipated due to the Eagles beginning the season undefeated.
Instead of going back to McCown when he returns, the Browns must continue to stick with Kessler. It is apparent the team will have a high-end pick in next year,s draft, and while many will petition to draft a quarterback, they spent a third rounder on one just months ago in Kessler.
At 0-4, competing for the playoffs is a distant long shot and Cleveland needs to put all their marbles in one basket to determine if the USC product is truly capable of being a franchise quarterback. Amid all of the transactions to acquire handfuls of draft picks in 2017, now is the time to figure out who has a spot for the future.
With a ton of talented quarterbacks likely to enter the 2017 Draft, there is no doubt that opposing teams are eyeing are the Browns situation.
Cleveland is expected to select a quarterback with their first pick in next year’s draft. So they should just ride away with the 37-year-old veteran in McCown and develop the receivers more, right?
The Browns have a prime opportunity this season to assess Kessler at minimum risk. Job security shouldn’t be a worry for the front office or coaches as, after all, this is the first season in the new regime. Head coach Hue Jackson has already developed Kessler more than most expected, earning reputation as a quarterback guru. With only one true veteran receiver in Andrew Hawkins and an inconsistent line, the Browns are going to lose. A lot.
That is why they should take advantage of a situation where expectations are low and develop the young team. The next two drafts will determine the future of this team and determining who is a gamer and who is not is essential heading into planning for these drafts.
If Kessler continues to play the way he has and improves, Jackson might have been right on his guy. And if the Browns can distinguish if he can be the franchise quarterback moving forward, the draft becomes enormously simpler.
Test out Kessler the rest of 2016 and find out if the kid can develop into the player Jackson thought he could. He’s shown phenomenal poise and his a workhorse in the practice facilities, something Browns quarterbacks have lacked in the past. Worst comes to worst, the Browns are a lock to draft a quarterback and move on from the constant questioning.