CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns may be set to face one of the most storied franchises in recent memory in the National Football League when the New England Patriots come to FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon, but that has done little to deter rookie quarterback Cody Kessler.
Instead of letting outside doubts about the team's 0-4 start cause concern or question, Kessler has focused on the process of preparing for his third NFL start and first in front of the home fans after back-to-back losses on the road.
“It is just moving forward, week in and week out,” Kessler said. “It is 'Just keep the process. Keep working.'
“They do a lot of great things defensively. They are a very sound football team, very physical. They do a lot of different looks to create confusion, and you just have to stay on top of it. We watched countless hours of film, continue to study and continue working on the game plan.”
In his research and film study, Kessler has found the Patriots’ defense, which has been playing without the services of hybrid end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich for four weeks because of a suspension, to be difficult to take advantage of because of their approach.
“You never see them out of position,” Kessler said. “They are always in the right spot. They are always around the ball. They are always making plays on the ball. If it is zone, they are staying where they are supposed to be.
“If it is man, they are doing a great job of staying in the hip pocket of the receiver. You have to be very accurate when you are throwing the football. You have to make fast decisions with the ball, find them and get it to the right spot.”
Kessler credits the successful play of the front seven to the Patriots’ depth and wealth of experience at the NFL level.
“They do a ton of different looks and they do it very well,” Kessler said. “They do a lot of things to try and confuse you. The different looks you might see one week, they might change up the next week. You always have to be alert and be ready to make different calls on the line and change the calls and change protection.”
To Kessler, playing smart and taking care of the football are of paramount importance Sunday. But his three years of starting at the University of Southern California have allowed him to maintain focus on the process.
“No matter what the game is or the pressure that comes with it, I have always tried to stay level-headed,” Kessler said. “You just have to stay calm. It just goes back to throughout the week -- it starts right now -- going through the whole process this week and getting to game day, having no questions or no doubts about what you are running or what you are trying to accomplish each play.”