For years, Joe Flacco was known as a villain by Cleveland Browns fans. The former Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback was constantly handing them losses with a record of 18-3 against them. That included a Week 2 win in 2022 when he was with the New York Jets.
Now in Week 17 of the 2023 season, Flacco has become the folk hero in Cleveland. Signed after Deshaun Watson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, Flacco wound up starting and has now gone 4-1. His latest win came on Thursday Night Football against the Jets — the very team that didn't want him back after losing Aaron Rodgers in Week 1.
That victory gave the Browns a spot in the playoffs for the second time in four years. It also led to something many of us thought we would never hear, which was a fired-up Cleveland crowd chanting "Joe Flacco." Even his former teammate with Baltimore and New York, C.J. Mosley understood the irony after the game.
Cleveland improved to 11-5 with the win and they still have a shot at winning the AFC North, although they will need some help for that to happen. They'll need to see the Ravens lose out against Miami and Pittsburgh while they handle business in Week 18 against the Bengals.
Joe Flacco has been everything the Cleveland Browns needed
Before Flacco was signed, the Browns offense struggled to push the ball downfield. That led to defenses zeroing in on the run game — limiting the offense tremendously. His ability to throw the deep ball, coupled with his play-action successs, has taken the offense to new heights.
In each of his five starts, he's thrown multiple touchdowns and at least 250 yards. His last four have all seen him go over 300 yards. He's also spreading the ball around, getting playmakers such as David Njoku, Amari Cooper, and Elijah Moore involved. Unfortunately, Njoku is the only healthy one in that bunch, but thankfully, the Browns have 10 days off to rest up before their season finale in Cincinnati.