(Berea) When they signed Joe Flacco out of desperation last month, the Cleveland Browns hoped the veteran quarterback would keep them in the hunt for a playoff berth. They needed someone to calm things down amid mounting injuries and uncertainty.

Expectations were tempered when Flacco arrived. Four games later, they became unshakable.

Not only is Flacco on the verge of helping the Browns advance to the NFL playoffs for the second time in 21 years, but the 38-year-old is making many residents of this football-loving city believe everything is possible with the Browns — and their number one-ranked defensive unit.

Not bad for a guy who spent months watching games on TV at home in New Jersey, wondering if he’d thrown his last pass.

Clearly, Flacco still has something to offer.

“He played very well,” analyzed star left guard Joel Bitonio.

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I saw him throw a little bit in practice. I thought he looked like he could still throw, but playing on the field is a lot different than practicing. He was great for us. He was a leader. He really steadied the ship and we are grateful to have him. »

Deshaun Watson returned to Browns headquarters Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending shoulder surgery. Most of the time, the presence of the Browns’ starting number one quarterback would elicit a much more heated reaction.

This is not the case at the moment. These Browns are Flacco’s team.

However, luck sometimes does things well, Flacco will be able to help the Browns qualify for the playoffs with a victory on Thursday night against the New York Jets, the team for which he played last season.

The Jets decided not to offer him a contract this offseason or after they lost Aaron Rodgers to a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. during the opening match.

Flacco insists he has no animosity toward the Jets.

It’s fun to think about what could have happened, but Flacco insists he’s not playing that game.

“There are 32 teams in the NFL. (The Jets) are just one of those teams. There are a lot of guys there that I really respect and had some great years in that locker room with. So I have a lot of respect for these guys. »

The Jets have moved on from Flacco.

The Browns can’t imagine where they would be without him.