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Thursday Night Football: Joe Flacco has no ill will towards former team as Browns push for playoff spot against Jets

By Thomas Schlachter, CNN

(CNN) — While fans always know to expect the unexpected in the NFL, not even the most knowledgeable football followers would have predicted the impact Joe Flacco has made during the 2023 season.

The veteran quarterback has starred for the Cleveland Browns in recent weeks and now faces a Thursday Night Football matchup against the New York Jets – Flacco’s former team.

“I enjoyed my time while I was there, and it is what it is,” Flacco said on what could be called his ‘revenge game’ against the Jets, per ESPN. “I’m happy to be where I am, that’s for sure.”

Flacco had a disappointing three-year spell in New York from 2020-2022 and was not re-signed at the start of this season by the Jets.

That meant that the 38-year-old started this year’s NFL season without a team and for a while it looked like things would stay that way.

Aaron Rodgers, the Jets’ big offseason acquisition, ruptured his left Achilles tendon just four snaps into his New York debut and Flacco was still not called back into action.

Instead, the Jets rolled with Zach Wilson who the franchise has placed a lot of faith in since he was drafted second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

However, Flacco adds that he sees Thursday’s matchup as just another game.

“There’s 32 teams in the NFL. They’re just another one,” Flacco added. “I got a lot of guys over there I really respect and had an awesome few years in that locker room. So a lot of respect for those guys.”

In a season that has seen starting quarterbacks injured on a regular basis, Flacco didn’t have to wait too long for a call-up to an NFL squad after being passed up by the Jets.

The Browns started the season with Deshaun Watson who struggled with injuries throughout the campaign. By mid-November, Watson was shut down for the season, undergoing shoulder surgery.

In his absence, Cleveland turned to Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who also got hurt, suffering a head injury, and to PJ Walker. To add depth to their quarterback core, Flacco was signed to the Browns’ practice squad on November 20.

He didn’t stay there for long though, starting for Cleveland on December 3 on the road against the LA Rams.

Flacco has now started four games for the Browns and has guided the team to a 3-1 record. In those four games, Flacco has thrown for more yards than any other quarterback (1,307) and also thrown for a joint-high four touchdowns across that span.

Cleveland now boasts an impressive 10-5 record and sits second in the AFC North, fifth overall in the American Football Conference. The Browns are almost certain to make the playoffs, per the NFL’s Playoff Picture, and Flacco’s experience and ability has proved vital to their late season run.

The Browns can lock their spot in the playoffs with a win against the Jets during Thursday Night Football and head coach Kevin Stefanski said he can’t wait for his team to earn the spot.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

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