Browns head coach Hue Jackson took criticism on social media Thursday night for his decision to bench rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in favor of Josh McCown at halftime against the Ravens. The Browns went into intermission with a 7-6 lead, and the quarterback change did not pay off. McCown threw two interceptions in the second half, and the Browns never scored again, losing 28-7.
After the game, Jackson defended his decision.
“I felt we needed a spark,” Jackson said. “Nothing against Cody. I wasn’t playing musical chairs today, but I was trying to give our offense a chance to function at a faster rate and do some different things. That’s a decision I thought I needed to make, and I don’t regret it at all.”
Jackson said Kessler would start the Browns’ next game.
“Absolutely,” Jackson said. “I’m still going to play him. He’s a young player, and I’m going to put him back out there.”
Asked if he thought being benched would hurt Kessler’s confidence, Jackson said, “I’m not worried about his confidence. I know Cody very well, and Cody totally understands.”
Kessler seemed to understand after the game, although he completed 11 of 18 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, and certainly played better than McCown.
“I wanted to stay in and compete, everybody does, but I’m a team player and I want to do what’s best for the team,” Kessler said. “I need to be more efficient and I need to make better reads.”
The pressure is building on the Browns (0-10) to avoid a winless season. Jackson’s move with Kessler may have been a sign of Jackson feeling that pressure.