CLEVELAND -- Whether it be forecasts of inclement weather conditions or having to bounce back from a benching in a 28-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium last Thursday night, Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler has had a lot to process over the last 10 days.
But Kessler, a Bakersfield native and product of the University of Southern California, is focused squarely on getting ready to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC North Division battle at FirstEnergy Stadium today.
“You can’t play scared,” Kessler said. “You can’t play timid. You have to go out and focus on that next moment, that next game, that next play, and you have to improve on it. That is something that I have really emphasized this week, put a lot of emphasis on that and made sure I had everything down right and all the calls and things we are going to do on third down.”
The Browns were just one series into the second half of their AFC North Division matchup against the Ravens last Thursday night when head coach Hue Jackson elected to make a change at quarterback and bench Kessler.
In place of Kessler, veteran Josh McCown, who completed six of his 13 attempts for 59 yards with two interceptions, one of which resulted in a touchdown in Baltimore’s three-score win.
Prior to the Thursday night loss to the Ravens, Jackson spoke of his refusal to “play musical chairs” with his quarterback, but despite Kessler completing 11 of his 18 throws for 91 yards and a 25-yard touchdown, he elected to go with the veteran for the bulk of the second half.
Kessler’s rating for the game was 92.6. Conversely, with the three turnovers, McCown had a 19.9 quarterback rating against the Ravens.
“We had the weekend off and I came in a couple times,” Kessler said. “I just started on Pittsburgh and completely just moved on from it. At the same time, you learn from it. Watching that film against Baltimore, there were things that I wish I could have done better and different things like that are something that you want to move on from, but at the same time, carry with you to learn from.”
And one of the things Kessler has learned is the importance of taking down-the-field chances if he hopes to win games.
“You want to take more chances,” Kessler said. “You want to get the ball down field. You want to be able to extend drives, but at the same time, be smart with the football and keep it in your possession. You have to find a happy medium of that.
“You have to protect the football, but at the same time, you have to take some shots and take some chances. As I continue to grow in this offense and with these guys, that is something I want to continue to do more.”