A week after giving the Cleveland Browns their most competent performance from the quarterback position they’ve had all season in a loss, former Baltimore Ravens franchise signal caller Joe Flacco played himself into the full-time starting role with his impressive outing in a victory over the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14.
Browns’ HC Kevin Stefanski named Joe Flacco as Cleveland’s starting QB for the rest of this season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 10, 2023
“A player that has been around and has had the career he’s had, he can really lean on his experiences, lean on his games that he’s played (and) the different systems he’s been in,” Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said.
With less than two weeks on the job, he nearly led the Browns to a victory on the road last week before a disastrous final couple of minutes made what was a back-and-forth game with the Los Angeles Rams look like a lopsided loss. Against the Jaguars at home on Sunday, the 38-year-old former Super Bowl MVP had an even better as he outdueled 2021 first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
Flacco went 26-of-45 for a season-high 311 passing yards and three touchdowns to one interception and a passer rating of 92.0 while Lawrence—albeit hobbled by an ankle sprain—was 28-of-50 for 257 passing yards and three touchdowns to three interceptions and a passer rating of 65.2.
Flacco was especially sharp and calm under pressure, going 9-of-12 for 182 passing yards including all three of his touchdowns and near perfect passer rating of 156.3.
Joe Flacco is 9/12 for 182 yds, 3 TDs, and a 156.3 passer rating vs the blitz today. Professional quarterback.— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) December 10, 2023
After the game, Flacco told CBS sideline reporter Evan Washburn that he was watching NFL games at his mother’s house three weeks ago and now he’s the starting quarterback for another AFC North franchise coming off his 100th career win as a starter.
“It’s unbelievable to be out there,” Flacco said. “It’s a really unique experience. I really can’t tell you enough. To have children that are of the age where they understand what’s going on and I’m going to remember these things forever... I’m just trying to stay in the moment, be as grateful as possible, and keep getting better.“
Thankfully, the Ravens and their fans don’t have to worry about facing a resurgent Flacco down the final stretch of the regular season since they already split their two games with the Browns this year. However, with Cleveland currently occupying the fifth seed in the AFC playoff standings as the top Wildcard team, there’s still a chance that January Joe could make his return to Charm City as a member of an opposing team in the playoffs. Depending on how the final seeding shakes out, it could be in the divisional round if they secure the No. 1 seed or on Super Wildcard Weekend if they don’t.