Kevin Stefanski faced tall expectations heading into the 2023 NFL season, and the Cleveland Browns could have gone off the rails as their star running back and quarterback went down.
But the team managed to squeeze wins out of multiple starting quarterbacks and a diverse trio of rushers.
Only one of those replacement quarterbacks appeared ready to take ownership of Stefanski’s offense, and ProFootballTalk’s panel of writers announced some special recognition for that player (via ProFootballTalk on Twitter).
PFT's comeback player of the year for 2023 is a guy who wasn't even on a practice squad until November 20. Ladies and gentlemen, Joe Flacco. https://t.co/xaXQtocDto
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 11, 2024
PFT named Joe Flacco their NFL Comeback Player of the Year this week.
With only five games under his belt in 2023, there might be some eyebrows raised at PFT’s selection, but the player who came in second place, Damar Hamlin, only played 17 defensive snaps for the Buffalo Bills.
Flacco averaged over 320 passing yards per game, winning four games in a row after shaking off the rust in Week 13.
On Saturday, Flacco will start the Browns’ wild card game against the upstart Houston Texans.
It will be Flaco’s first postseason game since 2014, an NFL record for space between playoff appearances.
Since arriving in Cleveland, Flacco infused the swagger and authority of an accomplished veteran.
His resume, bolstered by a Super Bowl MVP award after the 2012 season, gave the Browns’ offense instant credibility.
It didn’t matter that Flacco hadn’t posted a winning record as a quarterback since 2017, going 7-19 over that span.
His 2023 stats are similar to those of the past five seasons, but the Browns are making the most of Flacco’s talents.
Browns fans look forward to remaining delirious with Flacco Fever for another month or so.