Published by: Bear Acuda
Joe Flacco is a thing again, and it’s hard not to root for the guy.
Stepping in as the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns just over a month ago, Flacco has transformed what appeared to be a doomed season into one that will be written into song, bellowed by Cleveland fans for years to come.
Dare I say, “the Browns are better with Flacco instead of Deshaun Watson”?
Since taking over as QB1 for the Browns, Flacco has led the team to a rare playoff spot? “How rare?” you say. It will only be the Browns second playoff appearance since 2002. This Browns team, which has been devastated by injuries, including their franchise rapist, quarterback Deshaun Watson, and prized-race horse, running back Nick Chubb. But it is Flacco who has grabbed a hold of the reins and given these horses a steady hand. In his recent Thursday night game against the New York Jets, Flacco threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns, securing a 37-20 win for the Browns.
The Jets were out of it before the whistle ended the first half.
Currently holding an 11-5 record, the Browns have secured a wild-card spot and still vie for the AFC North title. There is even a mathematical possibility (albeit lightning striking you kind of odds) they could claim the top seed in the AFC. This turnaround is nothing short of a masterpiece, and if you would’ve told me 7 weeks ago that journeyman Joe Flacco (although a Super Bowl champion) would be the one to lead the Browns to the playoffs, without Nick Chubb, I would’ve tried selling you “magic beans”.
At 38, Flacco, the Super Bowl XLVII MVP (that’s Super Bowl 47, for those of you who never learned Roman numerals), the old bull has looked more like a young calf, arguably playing the best football of his life. His record as a starter with the Cleveland Browns (the worst franchise for quarterbacks ever in the NFL) is now 4-1.
4-1. And Browns fans, like 99.99% of sports media, have shifted their tune.
During the game’s closing moments, Browns fans (who once hated Flacco while he was leading division rival Baltimore to world championships), could be heard chanting “Flac-co! Flac-co!” in admiration.
Flacco humbly reflected on the significance of these moments, vowing to cherish them for life:
“You don’t know how many of these moments you’re going to get. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”
In the first half, the ex-NY Jet connected twice with Browns playmaker Jerome Ford for touchdowns, establishing a 20-point lead over his old team (6-10). The Jets passed on the 15-year veteran after a relatively sub-par tenure, coming in from time-to-time to fill in when the other young QBs on the Jets roster were unavailable. The availability of quarterback Aaron Rodgers also played a factor.
Flacco’s performance was particularly noteworthy in the first half, where he amassed 296 yards. He became the first quarterback in 34 games to exceed 300 passing yards against the formidable Jets pass defense, and the first Cleveland QB to achieve over 300 yards in four consecutive games.
The atmosphere in Cleveland Browns Stadium was electrifying, offering fans long accustomed to disappointment, a reason to celebrate.
Even when missing several key players (including quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Nick Chubb, starting kicker, punter, and star wide receiver Amari Cooper), Flacco did not miss a beat, roasting the Jets vaunted pass defense like chestnuts on an open fire.
If this man doesn’t win the NFL “Comeback Player of the Year” award, the award should be thrown in the Icelandic volcano, never to be given again. He has earned every inch of that award, and should he manage to do the unthinkable…
I’m not even gonna say it. But I know who I’ll be low-key cheering for in these playoffs. If the Steelers aren’t in it anymore. And if they are, as long as we don’t play them. Nor are they allowed to knock out my Black & Yellow. I mean, losing to Joe Flacco?
Come on. I still hate them.
At the end of the day, they’re still the Browns. But I can respect game, and right now, Flacco got game.