Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel picked up his first career NFL victory against the Tennessee Titans. Can Cody Kessler do the same?
The Cleveland Browns are set to play the Tennessee Titans for the third straight year, and the Browns will look to go 3-0 in that stretch with three different starting quarterbacks.
After Brian Hoyer led a comeback victory in 2014 and Johnny Manziel stepped in for an injured Josh McCown and gave the Browns a 1-1 record last season, Cody Kessler now looks to step in and continue the tradition of beating the Titans.
The 2016 matchup draws similarities to the one in 2015, when Manziel gave Browns fans hope that he could be a successful NFL quarterback, or at least someone who could focus on football and stay out of trouble. Obviously, that did not hold true, but his Week 2 victory over the Titans gave the Browns an early-season win and gave Manziel his first career NFL victory.
Kessler is also looking for his first NFL victory after three straight losses, although he was out for most of last week’s game after leaving with a rib injury. Like Manziel did last year, Kessler is filling in for an injured Josh McCown, who returned to practice this week, but it was clear he was not healthy enough to start this Sunday.
Last year’s victory saw Travis Benjamin finish with three touchdowns, so someone will have to fill that void this season. Terrelle Pryor is the likely candidate, although a player like Ricardo Louis could finally have a big week and get his first career touchdown.
Even though the sample size is small, Kessler has shown he is capable of being a starter in the NFL. If not for a few missed field goals in Miami, he would have won his first career start. Still, he threw for at least 223 yards in his first two starts, only throwing one interception in those two games. He even had a touchdown pass last week against the New England Patriots before leaving with an injury.
After all the hype surrounding Manziel when he was drafted and after he beat the Titans last year, Kessler has the ability to come in with low expectations and get off to a much better start in Cleveland than Manziel did. The decision to draft the former USC Trojan in the third round may have confused some at the time, but some victories in 2016 will prove that it was a sound decision. But for that feeling to even enter the minds of Browns fans, he will need to begin picking up wins, with this Sunday’s game against the Titans being a great shot to do just that.