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This Team Will Start Its Fourth Quarterback on Sunday

The Cleveland Browns will likely start their fourth quarterback on Sunday when Joe Flacco suits up for the team.
Joe Flacco

The Cleveland Browns will start Joe Flacco at quarterback on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. Flacco will be the fourth signal caller to start for the team this season and the 37th since the team returned to the league in 1999.

Joe Flacco joined the team just days ago after Deshaun Watson was placed on injured reserve following a broken shoulder. He was quickly elevated to the team’s No. 2 quarterback over P.J. Walker. Walker finished last Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos after rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson left with a concussion.

What Joe Flacco Under Center Means For the Cleveland Browns

In as much as it’s possible, Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski will likely be remaking the offense for Joe Flacco this week. This will be at least the third distinct version of the team’s offense employed this year.

Watson is a strong-armed quarterback who operates mostly from the shotgun and has a lot of mobility. During the offseason, Stefanski put together an offense supposedly designed to use these skills. It turned out to be too complex, and a simplified version appeared after the bye week with Walker filling in for Watson. Watson seemed to come around in the wins against the Cardinals and Ravens.

When Thompson-Robinson took the field, the offense was redesigned around quick passes and simple reads. Thompson-Robinson, like Watson, is a mobile quarterback. His arm isn’t as strong, and as a rookie project, he wasn’t ready to make complex reads.

At 38, Joe Flacco is not at all mobile but still has a strong arm. He’s essentially the polar opposite of Thompson-Robinson at this point. Look for a lot more deep passes to open up short to medium passing lanes, and to take safeties and linebackers out of the box to take pressure off the run game.

The Cleveland Browns Fans Know Joe Flacco Well

It will be a strange experience for Cleveland Browns fans to root for Joe Flacco on Sunday. Flacco was the starting quarterback for the team’s arch-rival Baltimore Ravens for over a decade, winning a Super Bowl with the team. To add insult to injury, Flacco led the improbable two-minute, two-touchdown comeback as the starter with the New York Jets last season in Cleveland. In all, Joe Flacco holds an 18-3 record against the Browns.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson Still in Concussion Protocol

The Cleveland Browns have been in Los Angeles since Sunday night, having flown directly to Southern California after losing to the Denver Broncos. The team has practiced at UCLA all week but without Thompson-Robinson. Thompson-Robinson remains in concussion protocol after the brutal hit he took from Bronco Baron Browning. The rookie hasn’t taken a single practice snap all week. That makes him unlikely to dress for the game, let alone make the start.

The team continues to be banged up. Myles Garrett, Joel Bitonio, Amari Cooper, Denzel Ward and more have stayed off the field with Thompson-Robinson. Garrett and Bitonio. Cooper (ribs) is as well, though it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be without taking any reps with Joe Flacco. Ward, who sat out last week, is still a question mark.

Joe Flacco and the Cleveland Browns take on the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Sunday at 4:25pm ET / 1:25pm PT.

Main Photo: Bill Ingram – USA Today Sports


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