CLEVELAND -- Just because veteran quarterback Josh McCown has been healing up from a broken collarbone since a 25-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week Two of the regular season does not mean he has not been paying attention.
The second quarterback to start a game for the Cleveland Browns this season, McCown has watched as the one-time third-team quarterback, Cody Kessler, started each of the last three games and had the team in position to win in two of those games.
“I’m just really proud of him,” McCown said. “Just his process, the way he has developed his process, we talk about it all the time and that is so key for these young guys. What is your Monday through Friday going to look like? What is your Saturday routine look like?
“He is constantly honing that process and perfecting it. When you do that, on Sunday you have a chance to play good sound football. Cody has done that. Obviously, he has tons of room to improve because he is such a young player.”
Prior to suffering chest and rib injuries on a safety in a 33-13 loss to the New England Patriots at FirstEnergy Stadium last Sunday, Kessler led a nine-play, 75-yard drive, and capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, which drew them even with the Patriots, 7-7, with 6:09 to play in the first quarter.
On first-and-10 from the Patriots’ 11-yard line, Kessler surveyed the field and found Hawkins breaking free into the end zone on the left side of the field. Hawkins got away from the coverage, gave Kessler a big window to throw into, secured the catch and got two feet down in bounds for the game-tying score.
“Early on, I’m just impressed with what he has done and his poise and the way he is working,” McCown said. “I’m just proud of him being thrust into a tough situation where two guys go down the first two weeks. He has handled himself really well.
“Just look forward to watching him grow and compete. He is fun to have around. It is fun to come into the locker room and the quarterback room and get to work with a kid like that because he wants to learn so much. He is always asking the right questions.”
Over his first three starts in the NFL, the former University of Southern California quarterback completed 54 of his 81 attempts (66.7 percent) for 529 yards and two touchdowns against one interception.
And in McCown’s opinion, for Kessler to take the next step in his professional career and be a long-term solution at quarterback for a team desperate to find a franchise signal-caller after starting 26 players at the position since their return to the NFL in 1999, he has to maintain a level of consistency.
“I think everybody that sits in a chair in this locker room, you want the potential to be able to do for that franchise what everybody hopes they can do,” McCown said. “He just has to keep his process, keep doing what he has been doing.
“That is going to give him the best chance for that to happen moving forward. If you have a guy that is in a room, especially in that position, that doesn’t have that mindset, that doesn’t want to be that type of player, then you probably have the wrong guy. I know from Cody and just the way he is wired, he is fighting for that. I can see that in his work ethic and the way he goes about it.”