Ground control to Mary Kay -- Joe Flacco was just alright against the Rams

Mary Kay Cabot has dubbed Joe Flacco’s start against the LA Rams as “stellar.”   

The etymology of  the word “stellar” comes from the Latin “stellaris”, meaning star.   The Cambridge Dictionary defines the adjective “stellar” as “extremely high in quality; excellent.”

Mary Kay’s choice of words suggest that Joe Flacco turned in a star performance in the Browns’ 36-19 loss to the then sub .500 LA Rams.

Flacco’s “other worldly” statistics?  He completed 23 of 44 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and one soul crushing interception that turned the game.  When things got desperate and everyone knew the Browns had to pass, Joe appeared to be stuck in concrete blocks – totally defenseless. 

Not to pick on old Joe.  He did better than anyone reasonably should have expected considering he was sitting on his couch for the entire preseason and more than the first half of the regular season.   Joe made some really nice passes.  But by objective standards, even backup standards, Joe was “alright”, not stellar.  “Stellar” would be a fitting word to describe Jake Browning’s performance where he completed 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards with a touchdown in the Bengals' win over the Jaguars, for comparison.

Everyone who follows the Browns knows that Mary Kay is quarterback obsessed.   It's "cuckoo for cocoa puffs" stuff.   She also tends to be given to hyperbole when it comes to the position.   She once went so far as to declare Jason Campbell to be an “elite” quarterback.

But it is not just Mary Kay.  The entire Cleveland sports media seems to be drooling over the prospect of strapping Joe Flacco finishing out the season as the Browns' QB1.   I haven’t seen this type of strange cult following since these usual suspects fell in love with Josh McCown.

McCown was a guy who could look good enough in an offense through three quarters to make you convince yourself that the Browns had a chance at a win and then he’d do more than enough in the fourth quarter to make sure that did not happen.   He was ideal if you were chasing the top of the draft while still trying to make things reasonably entertaining.   But no roster development or evaluation was taking place at the position.  Josh was just leading you to a higher pick.   

Josh looked the part of an NFL quarterback, conducted himself appropriately, and was the preferred alternative to some other bad choices.   His real NFL legacy, however, is that he quarterbacked two different teams to number one overall picks in the draft.   That is close to where Flacco is at in this stage of his career.

I will not be mad if Stefanski rolls with Flacco this week, and depending how he does rolls forward with him over DTR unless and until the Browns are eliminated from playoff contention.  My caution to everyone is do not lose sight of the fact that this is not the Joe Flacco of a decade ago.   Instead, in the last eleven games where Joe has thrown over 20 passes he is 1-10.   Offenses he leads have failed to score 20 points (or even 13 points) consistently. 

For those expecting Joe to markedly improve over his performance against the Rams, I would say that recent history does not suggest that to be a reasonable expectation.  It could get quite ugly against teams that are better than the Rams at applying pressure from the edge.  Josh Allen rolls in with 13.5 sacks this week.

So, start DTR?    That isn’t what I’m saying.  At least for the next few games.  But don’t start doing the typical Cleveland media thing and pick everything else apart (play calling, receivers, line play) if Joe does regress to the median.  Don’t start needlessly attacking DTR to prop up Flacco.   The kid was getting better.  If Joe leads an offense that puts up 9-16 points a game, it’s just who Flacco is and who he has been for a better part of the last decade.

The Browns can win with Joe.   But if they do, it will be similar to the way they won with DTR and PJ Walker.   Save yourself from dreaming of a Flacco that plays at the level that you think you remember him playing.   Even that is a mirage.    Joe was a below average quarterback for his last several years as a Raven and has gone downhill from there.   Quarterbacks who are not Tom Brady do not get better at age 38.

Maybe the stars will align around Joe Flacco and the Browns will make a playoff run with a number of reasonably winnable games coming up on the schedule.   But don’t mistake that for what it is -- a wish upon a falling star.   Falling hard.

Ground control to Mary Kay -- Joe Flacco was just alright against the Rams Ground control to Mary Kay -- Joe Flacco was just alright against the Rams Reviewed by AT Dawgger on 1:54 PM Rating: 5

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