After yesterday's Browns 31-27 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski named Joe Flacco the starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
That Stefanski named Flacco the starting quarterback for the rest of the season certainly does not seem surprising to Browns fans who have watched Flacco play the last two weeks.
But in addition to watching the games, it is important to evaluate the statistical or analytical evidence that may support the decision.
In particular, let's compare Flacco’s passer ratings in his first two games with the Browns other three starting quarterbacks this season.
An NFL passer rating is a metric which utilizes a specific formula with the following variables: pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions.
An NFL quarterback can have a passer rating of between 0 and 158.3 after the calculation has been completed.
In the first two games, Flacco, the former Super Bowl MVP Quarterback has played well according to analytical data.
Over the two games, he has thrown for 565 yards and five touchdowns. In addition, he has completed 55% of his passes while throwing two interceptions.
In Flacco's first two games with the Browns, Flacco's passer rating is 83.8 which is almost identical to his career average passer rating of 84.
When Flacco took the Ravens to the Super Bowl in 2013, Flacco had an 87.8 passer rating.
In comparing Flacco with the other Browns starting quarterbacks in the 2023 season, Watson started six games and had a passer rating of 84.3.
This is just slightly
better than Flacco's passer rating in the first two games.
In addition, Watson also had a better completion percentage than Flacco, completing 61.4 percent of his passes.
In addition to Flacco and Watson, PJ Walker had a passer rating of 52.2 and completed 48 percent of his passes while DTR had a passer rating of 50.6 and completed 53 percent of his passes.
In analyzing which quarterback had the best individual game, Watson had the best passer ratings in games against Tennessee (27-3 victory) where had a 123.4 passer rating and against Arizona (27-0 victory) in which he had a 107.5 passer rating.
Flacco had the third best passer rating of the 2023 season with a
92 in the 31-27 victory over Jacksonville on Sunday.
So although Watson has been the top rated passer for the Browns this season, the analytical evidence shows that Flacco is not far behind, and clearly based on the available statical evidence, he certainly should be starting for the Browns.
Although Flacco has played well in his first two games, one area that seems to be lacking is his completion percentage. So far, in two games, he has only completed 55 percent of his passes.
In fact, the Browns quarterbacks this season have not been elite in completing passes. Although the sample size is small, Flacco ranks near the bottom of NFL quarterbacks for completion percentage in 2023. Clearly, this will have to improve if the Browns are to have success in the 2023 playoffs.
Also, Flacco's passer rating is in about the middle of the pack for quarterbacks as he is ranked 24th out of 50 NFL quarterbacks in this metric.
The top three passer ratings in the NFL this season are Brock Purdy (49ers - 116.9), Jake Browning (Bengals - 110.9), and Dak Prescott (Cowboys - 107.5).
If Flacco can have more games in which he has a passer rating of 92, he will compare favorably to Patrick Mahomes who has a season passer rating of 93.3 for Kansas City and Josh Allen who has a season passer rating of 93.4 for the Buffalo Bills.
In addition to the statistical evidence supporting Flacco being chosen as the starter, the Cleveland Browns players seem to like playing with him.
Browns players note his calmness and exceptional leadership skills.
Tight end David Njoku said that he has really enjoyed having the opportunity to play with Flacco.
“Ice in his veins, he balled out (against the Jaguars),” said Njoku.
“He had over 300 passing yards and just got here two weeks ago.”
“He is a great player and I am really glad we have him.”
Browns wide receiver, David Bell, who caught a 41-yard touchdown pass on Sunday said that the success that Flacco is having is not a surprise.
“He's been a baller man,” said Bell.
“I don't think it's really a surprise to anybody. He is a Super Bowl quarterback. So getting him here and getting the rust off, he's been able to distribute the ball.”
Offensive Lineman Joel Bitonio noted that Flacco is a good leader who brings a calming presence to the team.
“(Flacco) just (brings) a veteran presence,” said Bitonio.
“Been in every situation you can imagine.”
“He gets excited when we score some touchdowns. But he's calm, he does a good job leading us and he's spreading the ball around pretty good.”
On Monday, Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski also talked about Flacco's leadership.
“He's a pro in that meeting room. He's a pro on the field. Like how he works and his teammates are getting to know him,” said Stefanski.
On Sunday against the Bears let's see how Flacco does and whether or not he is able to achieve a passer rating in the 90s or above by hopefully completing more passes.
If this type of passer rating starts to become a common occurrence for Flacco, this postseason has the potential to be extremely exciting.