DENVER – The question lingers as the Broncos take their fifth swing at finding stability at quarterback: Did they acquire Joe Cool or another Average Joe?
Joe Flacco met the media on Friday and provided insight to suggest the Broncos might finally gain traction for the first time since Super Bowl 50. At 34, after a “miserable experience as a backup,” he remains motivated not only to play well, but to play for a long time. Unlike Case Keenum, who seemed uncomfortable in the spotlight, Flacco drips with confidence even as it is clothed in humility.
"I am driven because this is what I love to do,” Flacco said to my question about his edge moving forward before adding later. “I have been in the league long enough. Success is winning football games. At some point, everybody's real expectation is to get to the playoffs. I really think that I am the guy. I've got to go prove that I am.”
Flacco boasts a resume that dwarfs Keenum’s. That remains, in part, why John Elway moved quickly to acquire Flacco after the failed Keenum experiment. He believes Flacco is “entering his prime, can make all the throws and fits well in this (version of the West Coast) offense.” But with Elway, the statistics matter. Flacco owns 10 playoff wins, including a league-record seven on the road. However, he hasn’t won a postseason game since 2014, which marks the last time he eclipsed 20 touchdowns in a season.
In Flacco, the Broncos want dependability, availability, and, in something a stranger at Dove Valley the past two seasons, efficiency. Denver’s quarterbacks have thrown 37 interceptions the past two seasons. For the Broncos to avoid a third-straight losing season for the first time since a 10-year slide from 1963-1972, they need Flacco to succeed. He has played his best in big games.
“We had a lot of tough, ugly close games in Baltimore,” Flacco told me when I asked about his success in the postseason and down the stretch. “We leaned on our defense and learned to win those types of games. You aren’t getting 10 seconds in an unmolested pocket in the playoffs. Those close games got us ready for the playoffs.”
Coach Vic Fangio admitted quarterback is the “most important position in all of sports.” He knows Flacco from his seasons as an assistant in Baltimore. He liked him then. Likes him now. But hanging out last month sold him on the idea. They stayed at the same hotel when Flacco came in for his physical. Flacco headed up to Fangio’s room to talk football and watch some hoops.
“It was really good,” Fangio said. “He’s fired up to be here.”
Flacco has an interesting history in Denver. He produced one of the most painful losses in Denver, rallying the Ravens to a win in double overtime. Blurted a reporter, “We were all here for that 2013 game.” Responded Flacco, “Yeah, sorry. ... that was most excited been in locker room.”