BEREA, Ohio--Cody Kessler is serious about being the Browns starting quarterback.
He knew he needed to get bigger and stronger and improve his arm strength. He also knew he had to make quicker decisions.
Kessler spent the first three months on a special diet regiment to try and give him a chance to be as strong as he possibly could be in preparation for the 2017 season. He also spent most of his time working to improve his arm strength, as well as his decision making with renowned quarterback guru Tom House.
Kessler said he's noticed the difference already in the early portion of the OTA's.
“For me mostly, it is just confidence and being able to make some of those longer throws and push the ball downfield," Kessler said. "In all of Phase 2, we threw a ton of deep balls, a ton of longer balls down the field and being able to push the ball down the field and have that confidence and knowing that you can get it there and put a little more on it is something that definitely helps you out, confidence level and everything.
"Also the mental side of it, being able to go out there and like I said, knowing you can make every throw so now you are focused on what is going on with the defense, what you are going to call, what different calls you can make, change the play and different stuff like that, which I think helped me out a lot and be able to play a lot faster," he said. "Being Year 2, obviously, you have a lot more experience, but yeah, I think the way that I worked this offseason can help me out not only physically, but mentally as well.”
Hue Jackson noticed the difference in Kessler, as well.
“Yeah, I think Cody is stronger and the ball has more zip on it," Jackson said. "He has worked extremely hard. What he is working at now is maintaining it and being able to do it week in and week out and day in and day out. That is his challenge, and we will keep staying after it with him.”
Kessler said he worked a lot on his core strength in the off-season and he credits that to his improved arm strength.
“A lot of core," he said. "A lot of core work, a lot of upper-body work but mostly was working with Tom House and those guys out there, and obviously, Coach Jackson and Coach (David) Lee, just being able to talk to them, especially Coach Jackson when I was leaving last year and stuff he wanted me to work on. A lot of it was just countless hours in the weight room.
"I think the biggest thing, too, was mechanics-wise – being able to not get so far forward and be able to get that power from your legs," he said. "A lot of my throws last year were completely upper body, and I was throwing a ton of upper body and not being able to get my legs into my throw and being able to stay back on your weight and push off your back plant foot is something that is huge, and that was something that I noticed a lot. As well, it comes with being in the weight room and strength and working on different things here and there.”
Kessler said he feels the ball coming out much easier this year.
“The coolest part about it mechanically is it feels like I’m throwing it harder but with a little bit less effort," Kessler said. "It doesn’t feel like I’m putting as much strain on my shoulder and my arm and just trying to throw it as hard as I can every time. It feels like if you do everything in sync and just countless reps of that over and over in the offseason, being able to throw the ball now, it just feels a little bit more fluid. Instead of trying to strain and get everything you have into it, you can get that transition from your legs to your upper body, and it makes it a lot easier.”
Kessler started eight games as a rookie--all losses-- but feels the experience he received has really helped him as he enters his second season.
“First and foremost, you know what to expect coming out here and what the practices are going to be like and the competition level," he said. "You have that first year under your belt. Last year, I was a wide-eyed rookie, where DeShone (Kizer) is right now, coming out there and getting everything thrown at you and that is why it has been really cool to now go from the rookie standpoint to not necessarily a mentor, but kind of helping him out – he has a bunch of questions and being able to talk to him and have answers for him that I necessarily didn’t have last year.
"Just having that year under your belt of OTAs and a full season and getting to start a couple games makes this process or this transition into OTAs a lot easier than it was last year.”