At this time last year,
It’s a little different roughly 365 days later but Kessler hasn’t let a second go to waste. He knows he has areas to improve upon after an up and down rookie season and a big opportunity awaits in a wide-open Browns quarterback room.
“What is up to me is how hard I compete and prepare in obviously this offseason, coming back and ready to go and getting back with these guys and working out with them,” Kessler said Tuesday after Day 2 of offseason workouts. “My mindset right now is just go out there and compete and control what I can control, and that is how I work out and watch film and every little detail that there is to playing quarterback in this league.
“I know my goals that I wanted to have for the year coming up, and I can specifically work on instead of just working on and waiting.”
When he was outside under the California sunshine this past winter, Kessler worked on all aspects of his game, the good and bad he uncovered during an intensive self-scout. Kessler said he examined every one of his plays from 2016, a season that saw him start eight games and finish with team highs in yards (1,380 yards) and touchdowns (six).
His eyes lit up Tuesday when he was asked about how he intended to improve his downfield throwing in 2017. Countless hours, he said, have been devoted to increasing his overall strength and applying the kind of changes to his mechanics he hopes has an impact on his ability to deliver the ball deep down the field to the likes of
“That is something that I really worked on and had a big emphasis on,” Kessler said. “I continued to work on the short and intermediate gains, moving and being comfortable in the pocket, moving around but as well as stepping into a throw and getting my back foot under me more so you can push it more down the field and getting everything into the throw instead of falling off.”
Kessler said he worked out five times a week and stuck to a meal plan over the past four months -- two areas that fall under the “controlables” part of his process. What he can’t control is what happens in next week’s draft and how it affects his path toward his goal of serving as the Browns’ starting quarterback.
With the departures of Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, Kessler is the lone member of Cleveland’s three-man quarterback room with starting experience in Hue Jackson’s offense.
The dynamics of the Browns quarterback room, including the arrival of veteran quarterbacks coach David Lee, have changed, but Kessler’s approach hasn’t.
“You have to prepare during the offseason, in season, week in and week out as if you are the starter,” Kessler said. “That is the mindset that I have had this whole offseason and going into workouts right now and then obviously into OTAs and camp. You have to prepare yourself like that because if you don’t and all of the sudden that happens, then you aren’t going to be ready.”
In his meetings with Jackson, Kessler said he was implored to “make that leap” from a rookie to a Year 2 player. Simply put, that requires improvement in every area of his game, and it starts with what he does during the eight months of the year when games aren’t being played.
“Just do everything you can to make yourself a better quarterback, a better leader, a better guy in the locker room and everything you can do to be just an overall better player,” Kessler said. “That is something that I take personally and that I worked on this offseason and did a lot of different things to help myself on the field but as well off the field.”