This is a guest post from T.J. McCreight. McCreight has worked as a scout, director of pro personnel, director of college scouting, and a player personnel executive across multiple NFL teams.
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski must be given a lot of credit for what his team has done this season. They have lost offensive lineman, defensive backs, running backs, and quarterbacks to injuries. Somehow, they are overcoming it all and are going to make the playoffs and could even make some noise in the postseason. Not since the days of Bernie Kosar has there been this kind of excitement on the shores of Lake Erie.
Long time Baltimore Raven Joe Flacco is suddenly the toast of the town. Flacco Fever is real, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. General Manager Andrew Berry pulled Flacco off the golf course to lead this football team into meaningful January games in one of the great surprised of the season. Flacco is not a perfect quarterback, but for this team, he is just what the doctor ordered. Because Flacco will throw the ball down the field, he will throw interceptions, but this variance is expected, and Browns fans will deal with some interceptable passes.
Why the success? As their run game has fallen off and offensive linemen get injured, Flacco gives this team a different dynamic that is a perfect fit. Flacco is not going to beat defenders in a foot race, but he is savvy enough to avoid rushers and make throws down the field. He throws an outstanding deep ball, and they have the pass catchers that can make those plays. The veteran passer does not get flustered after a turnover or when the team is down by double digit points. He just keeps to the plan and makes plays.
When Nick Chubb was lost for the season, and then Watson as well, most experts thought that the Browns were done. But the Browns have the ingredients for success: an elite pass rusher and corner, an experienced defensive coordinator, a smart head coach, and a Super Bowl winning quarterback that is willing and able to make throws that not many in the world can make.
The Browns didn’t win the Super Bowl in 2020, but Kevin Stefanski, through adversity, did an outstanding coaching job and certainly showed me what kind of leader he was during that season. That it why it is not a shock that Stefanski kept the team together after Chubb was injured and Watson was lost. Flacco has been the cherry on top.
With an up and down AFC, the only thing guaranteed is uncertainty. Still, I would not want to play Cleveland in the playoffs. Myles Garrett is basically unblockable, Joe Flacco is red hot, and Amari Cooper is poised to continue his success.