The LA Rams (5-6) are not the only NFL team that has struggled under the weight of injuries this season. While the Cleveland Browns (7-4) are in the thick of the AFC Playoff hunt, the team has gotten there by the strength of a suffocating defense, a formidable offensive line, and a commitment to run the football.
The formula has proven to be a wise choice because the Browns' performance at the quarterback position in 2023 has been anything but reliable. In fact, in 11 games this season, the Browns have already had a significant number of appearances from three quarterbacks. That number could increase to four quarterbacks if rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) is unable to go this week due to his being shaken up in Week 12 against the Denver Broncos, and being placed into the NFL Concussion Protocol this week.
The news from Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is that if Browns rookie quarterback DTR cannot go, the LA Rams will face veteran QB Joe Flacco.
The Browns officially signed veteran QB Joe Flacco to the Browns practice squad on November 20, 2023, and since arriving, Flacco has been getting a crash course in learning the Browns offense. Since backup quarterback DTR's placement into the NFL concussion protocol, the urgency of his learning has increased.
Flacco gets the green light from the Brown's camp
Don't underestimate Flacco's ability to manage the Browns offense. In many ways, he is ideally suited for this type of defense-driven, run-centric offense because that was the type of team that he lead when he played for the Baltimore Ravens. Now 38 years old, and competing in his 16th consecutive NFL season, Flacco has seen everything and anything that NFL defenses can throw at him.
In the past three seasons, Joe Flacco was a backup quarterback for the New York Jets, a team that struggled to win games. Over that period, Flacco appeared in 12 games, was involved in the outcome of nine games for the Jets, and held a record of 1-8 in those decisions. While not successful, Flacco himself performed admirably. Flacco completed 211 of 367 passes for 2,253 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. He can even scramble for positive yards.
Flacco leapfrogged over Browns backup quarterback P.J. Walker, who struggled mightily in relief of DTR against the Broncos in Week 12.
The Rams would be wise to follow the same game plan as the Broncos. It their win, the Broncos only passed 22 times, and opted to run at the Browns defense 39 times. It was the Broncos ground assault that allowed them to score twice, adding an additional receiving touchdown to seal the victory.
The LA Rams know a thing or two about starting a newly arrived veteran quarterback. Just one year ago, the Rams shocked the Las Vegas Raiders and the NFL by staging a late game rally to defeat the Raiders behind the throwing of newly arrived Baker Mayfield.
Now, it's the Rams who could face a veteran QB on little prep time. Hopefully, the Rams will be prepared if that should be the case.