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Joe Flacco Went From His Couch To The Playoffs

12:46 PM EST on December 29, 2023

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 28: Joe Flacco #15 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 28, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Nobody wanted Joe Flacco until late November, and even then “want” seems like an awfully strong word. Pro Football Talk reported that Flacco “had not drawn any significant interest” until the Browns signed him to their practice squad on Nov. 20. Flacco himself had “expressed interest” in signing with the Jets, where he’d played the last three seasons, after Aaron Rodgers went down. But, per The Athletic, “the team decided to stick with Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle, eventually adding Trevor Siemian to the practice squad.”

Whoops! Flacco, who is the Browns’ fourth starting quarterback this season, is leading Cleveland into the playoffs. Last night’s 37-20 win over the Jets was his fourth victory in five starts. Flacco has not played a murderers’ row of teams—Rams, Jags, Bears, Texans, Jets—but also the Browns were no juggernaut before he got there. On Thursday night, Flacco threw for 309 yards on just 29 passes—more than 10 yards an attempt. The game was over by halftime. Flacco’s 296 first-half passing yards were the most by a Browns QB since 1991, per CBS; the Jets had the NFL's second-ranked passing defense coming into the game. It was Flacco’s fourth straight game over 300 yards. This is a bit of an arbitrary cutoff, but ESPN noted that Flacco is the first player with 250 yards passing and multiple passing TDs in each of his first five games with a franchise. Flacco has taken the Browns from 7-4 to 11-5, and Thursday's win locked them into a postseason spot.

The Jets, for their part, are 6-10 and will not be making the playoffs. Wilson has had one 300-yard game in 12 appearances. Boyle has played three games, Siemian four. You’d think the Jets would’ve been interested in Flacco if only as a presence in the quarterback room—at last report he’s not vaccinated!

Flacco had a ton of good throws last night. Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley came up to his former teammate postgame and summed it all up: “Who would’ve thought the fucking Browns would be screaming your name? That shit crazy.”

Flacco, who’s 38, was thoughtful after the game too. “You don’t know how many of these moments you’re going to get,” he said. “Not too many people get the opportunity to have kids as old as mine and that understand what’s going on, get to witness this. And I think it’s cool for them, but ultimately it’s really cool for me. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. And anything that you get to do with people that you love, especially your children, they just make everything that much more special.”

Flacco even got to spend the first half of the season hanging out with his wife and their four kids before jumping back in and making the playoffs. That’s kind of the dream. Give him Comeback Player of the Year. Seems like Cleveland will likely get the Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs. Then, who knows? Why can’t this run continue?

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