Searching for a spark on the road in the middle of a winless season growing darker every week, Browns coach Hue Jackson tried to find one in the form of a familiar quarterback.
The Browns benched quarterback Cody Kessler for veteran Josh McCown after the team's first drive in the second half. Baltimore led 13-7 at the time of the switch and the decision could not have gone much worse in a game the Browns lost 28-7.
McCown's five drives: Interception, three-and-out (including a McCown fumble), interception, lost fumble, three-and-out. McCown finished 6 of 13 for 59 yards and the three turnovers.
The decision will not be permanent. Jackson confirmed after the game that Kessler would get his starting job back.
"Cody's going to the be the quarterback next week," Jackson said. "I've never said Cody was the starting quarterback for the rest of the year."
Jackson will get criticized for the change, but we don't blame him for it. He was searching for something to give his offense life in a season where one win could lift a heavy weight that is hanging over the franchise. It didn't work, but the reasoning made some sense.
Kessler completed 11 of 18 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, for a meager 5.1 yards-per-attempt average. Always careful with the ball, Kessler was slow to pull the trigger on a number of throws last week against Dallas and in the first half of this game. That's mostly to Kessler's credit; he doesn't turn the ball over. But Jackson expressed the desire publicly this week for Kessler to stretch the field more and it wasn't happening. Only one of Kessler's six drives went farther than 20 yards.
"I wasn't playing musical chairs today. I was trying to give our offense a chance ... I took Cody out of the game because I wanted a spark," Jackson said.
The change backfired but the Browns were very unlikely to come back in this game no matter who was at quarterback. The Browns have been outscored 151-51 in the second half of games this season. A team that was routinely competitive and unlucky to be winless early in the season has started to truly look like an 0-10 squad.