The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t pursue a big name free agent quarterback to come in and compete with Blake Bortles or assume the role of backup quarterback. The team did, however, trade for Cody Kessler, which has proven to be a sound move for the 2018 season.
Cody Kessler came to the Jacksonville Jaguars from the Cleveland Browns for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2019. If Kessler doesn’t take a regular season snap other than mop-up duty this year, the pick will be well worth it.
Kessler, who played his college ball at USC before becoming a third-round pick of the Browns in 2016, has done everything asked of him and more this offseason.
Kessler was 14 of 17 for 139 yards and a touchdown in a little over two quarters of play against the New Orleans Saints. His accuracy and ability to connect on the short and intermediate passes and run the offense Blake Bortles will own this season is a testament to his ability to adapt and learn the system in a short amount of time.
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Not bad for a signal caller who has played in only 12 games in his career.
And should Bortles do the unthinkable and go down with an injury, the organization and fans have to feel better about the man behind the starter after it had been Chad Henne the previous four years behind the current starter.
"“Yeah, it’s a fresh start for me,” Kessler said in a story by Mike Kaye on firstcoastnews.com. “I think that was the best part. Cleveland, obviously, gave me an opportunity and I played as a rookie and had a chance there and I’m always thankful for that. It was tough last year, it was a tough situation. Having a fresh start here and being in this organization and just how positive everyone here is and excited to really get the season started.”"
The fact the Jaguars may not have to call on Kessler this season is refreshing given the fact Bortles has been durable. It’s one of the reasons the Jaguars made him the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft and his athleticism is the reason he won the starting job over Henne at the end of preseason in 2017.
Kessler has the makings of a solid game manager and has learned from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett patience and use what is in front of him from the defense to make things work. He has progressed during camp, something the coaching staff and Bortles have noticed. Now, Kessler must continue his progression and show the first preseason game was just the beginning, should he be called on.
"“Coach Hackett [stresses] protecting the football first, but at the same time, he wants the quarterback to stay safe and wants you to eliminate hits,” Kessler said. “If you can throw the ball away, throw the ball away. Don’t try to hang onto it, run around and do different things.”"