The Cleveland Browns have seamlessly rejuvenated quarterback Joe Flacco’s career in 2023. After three seasons as a backup with the New York Jets, Flacco was out of football to start the 2023 campaign before getting a call from the Browns amid their quarterback struggle with franchise signal-caller Deshaun Watson out for the season.
He has since led his new squad to a 3-1 record, thrown for 300 yards three times, and has Cleveland beelining for the playoffs. So the question worth asking with the postseason around the corner is whether Flacco is a better option than his former team’s current signal caller, the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson. Flacco played for the Ravens during his first 11 NFL seasons, winning the Super Bowl once.
Cleveland Browns QB Joe Flacco: Shining with Fourth NFL Team
Joe Flacco might have been on the couch to start the 2023 campaign, but he has lit it up for the Cleveland Browns this season. The 38-year-old (turns 40 in January) signed with Cleveland in late November, but after poor performances from Dorian Thompson-Robinson and P.J. Walker, the Browns opted to go with Flacco in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Flacco threw for 252 yards and two scores against one pick in a 36-19 loss. The results might not jump off the page, but since the Browns lost franchise cornerstone Deshaun Watson for the season in mid-November, they had just one passing touchdown through eight quarters. Watson also missed time in October, with Walker and Thompson-Robinson continuing to struggle during that span.
Since the team’s Week 13 loss, the Cleveland Browns are undefeated, with Flacco throwing for a ludicrous 1,053 yards and eight scores in three games. The Browns now have an outside chance of winning the AFC North but can lock up a playoff spot with a win next Thursday.
Joe Flacco: Elite Postseason Performer
Barring an injury, Flacco will get the nod under center for the Cleveland Browns this postseason. The Delaware product orchestrated surely the most incredible playoff run of all-time by a quarterback in 2012, collecting 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns against no picks in four games while leading the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers. Flacco posted a 117.2 quarterback rating during his team’s playoff run, besting fellow gunslingers Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Colin Kaepernick.
Flacco is undoubtedly one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all time. Outside a historic 2012 postseason run, the six-foot-six, 245-pound signal-caller threw for 551 yards and six touchdowns in two playoff games during the 2014 season, the last time he appeared in the postseason. Overall, Flacco has thrown 25 touchdowns against ten picks in his postseason career, compiling a 10-5 record and holding an 88.6 quarterback rating.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson: Getting Back on Track in 2023
Lamar Jackson took the football world by storm in 2019, earning All-Pro honors, throwing for 3,127 yards and a league-best 36 touchdowns while rushing for 1,206 yards and another seven scores. He won the MVP while leading the Baltimore Ravens to a spectacular 13-2 record. The former Heisman Trophy Award winner again played like a superstar in 2020, collecting 33 total touchdowns with the Ravens winning double-digit games. However, injuries and average play limited Jackson and the Ravens from 2021 to 2022, with the Lousiville product throwing just 33 touchdowns against 20 picks in that span.
Jackson is still looking to return to his MVP form, but he has played much better in 2023, registering 22 touchdowns and 13 turnovers through 14 games. More importantly, Baltimore is 11-3 and in the driver’s seat in the AFC North.
Lamar Jackson: Consistent Underperformer in the Playoffs
The postseason remains Jackson’s most formidable challenge, posting brutal numbers through four playoff games. The dual-threat quarterback will enter this postseason with a 1-3 record and a brutal 68.3 quarterback rating. Jackson has provided little to no production for the Ravens in three separate short-lived playoff runs, throwing for a measly 900 yards and three touchdowns against five picks. He remains a threat with his legs, rushing 54 times for 367 yards and a score during four postseason games, but his inability to make plays with his arm has limited the Ravens. Despite Jackson’s pedigree, dual-threat ability, and capacity to impact games, Joe Flacco remains the elite option in the postseason.
However, if there were ever a time for Jackson to right the ship with his playoff woes, it would be in 2023, with the Cincinnati Bengals out quarterback Joe Burrow and the Kansas City Chiefs failing to live up to expectations. It’s worth noting that as great as Flacco has been in the postseason, he started his playoff career with just one passing touchdown and six picks through five games. The book on Lamar Jackson is still ongoing, but it is up to him to improve its quality.