On Monday, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired their offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Later in that same day, the team named backup QB Cody Kessler the starter for their upcoming game against the Colts on Sunday. The 25-year-old Kessler will replace Blake Bortles, who has struggled mightily this season. In 11 games, Bortles has thrown only 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Even though Bortles lost his job, he has been supportive, according to Kessler.
“Blake has been great. We have already talked a couple times and even in the meetings and stuff he has been in there helping me out,” Kessler said. “I told him if there is anything I miss or something that might be better done this way or something you have seen before, just let me know. He was the same way back. He said if there are any questions you have or anything I am right here, and I am going to help you out. We have really built a relationship over the time I have been here. There is really no one else I would like to have in the quarterback room helping me out as well.”
For Kessler, this is an opportunity to try to jumpstart the 3-8 Jaguars, who are on a seven-game losing streak, and a chance to jumpstart his career.
“As a competitor, I am excited. It is tough to get opportunities in this league,” Kessler said on Wednesday. “To have one, I am very excited. We have had a close quarterback room, so when things happen like that it is part of the business, but at the same time it is a little rough. Just moving forward on this side. It is a great opportunity for me this week. Hoping to get the guys to rally around me and turn this thing around. I am really looking forward to it.”
Kessler, who is 0-8 as a starter, did replace an ineffective Bortles in Week 7 against the Texans, but the third-year quarterback has not started a game since 2016 when he was a rookie with the Browns. At that time, the Browns were struggling like the Jaguars are right now; something Kessler noted today.
“In Cleveland, that was a while back; it wasn’t the greatest situation there. There was a lot of adversity,” Kessler explained. “A lot of tough things. It is kind of the same thing here right now, 3-8 and a lot of frustration. At the same time, I have always believed it is a new week, a new opportunity. Getting these guys to really play for me is something that I really want to prove this week and show them I am ready to go. I don’t really care about the record. I am just going out there [with this] as an opportunity. I want to go out there and ball and just have some fun.”
With their playoffs chances pretty much done, the Jaguars are playing for pride. Sometimes changes will rejuvenate a team, and maybe the changes at offensive coordinator and quarterback will do just that for Jacksonville. We’ll find out on Sunday against the Colts.