JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Cody Kessler era begins Sunday when the Jaguars host the Indianapolis Colts.
The expectation is for Kessler to start the final five games of the season. After that, it's anybody's guess.
What can the Jaguars expect from the December of Kessler?
"He's good at not turning the ball over," said injured Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee, who played with Kessler at Southern Cal. "He'll make good decisions."
Kessler has started eight games in his NFL career. The third-year pro started eight games for the Cleveland Browns as a rookie, losing each of those games. He has spent the entire year as the Jaguars backup and said that he hasn't taken significant snaps with the first team in practice since the preseason.
"As a backup, you get one or two maybe every other week, every week here and there," Kessler said. "This will be exciting the next couple days of practice. Hopefully get on a rhythm with the receivers, tight ends and the backs and communication-wise with [Tyler] Shatley and the rest of the [offensive] line. The next couple days, I think, will be really important. It is exciting.”
The Jaguars will also have a new man calling the plays. Quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich takes over for the fired Nathaniel Hackett. Will the new voice provide the potential to provide a different look for the Jaguars' offense?
"Whenever you have new people coming in you get new methods and new mottos," wide receiver Dede Westbrook said. "For us, that's kind of an advantage."
The move wasn't a part of the consideration to make the change at offensive coordinator, but Marrone said he's hoping for a jolt for the offense Sunday.
"It’s always going to be a difference," Marrone said. "Obviously, we have the same system. We aren’t going to be changing the terminology in a week. Cody played in this system and now he gets a full week of playing. I think that Scott knows what Cody can do, obviously, he was his position coach. We’ll see when we get out there and see things during the week of what we’re going to be able to use.”
One of the issues that has come to light during the Jaguars' seven-game losing streak is the lack of leadership in the locker room. Some of the issues have been exacerbated by injuries or by players expected to lead not playing well. In the NFL, underperforming players have a hard time leading. But there should not be any stress from the quarterback's room. Blake Bortles said Wednesday that he took note of the way Chad Henne handled the demotion when Bortles was made the starter in 2014, and will take a page out of Henne's book.
"One thing I've always said that I thought was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen is how Chad handled going from being the starter to the backup and how he was able to maturely handle that," Bortles said."And then be there for me, and do whatever I needed to help in any way. That's all I'll try and do, is kind of what he did, and what I witnessed him do, be a professional. Our job is to be here and try to win football games and as backup quarterback or any quarterback that's the part of your job, to help to start in house arrest the often score points and win."