Joe Flacco broke the hearts of the Denver Broncos six years ago. Now he wants to help lead them back to the playoffs as their starting quarterback.
Flacco was formally introduced by the Broncos on Friday, two days after his trade from Baltimore was completed. The 34-year-old former Super Bowl MVP feels like he is in good shape and ready to go.
“Shoot, with Tom Brady now, quarterbacks are playing until they’re about 60 years old,” Flacco said with a laugh at his press conference Friday morning. “I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been and I’m as physical as I’ve ever been. Obviously, any time something crazy can happen, but barring anything crazy happening, I’m as healthy as I can be and as physical and as ready to go as ever. I’m excited about what lies ahead for me and my future.
“I’m not putting a number on how much time I’ve got left to play. I want to play as long as I can and hopefully they’re dragging me out of this building a long time from now.”
The Broncos hope Flacco is finally the answer at quarterback after several misfires since Peyton Manning retired following the Super Bowl 50 win. General manager John Elway drafted Paxton Lynch in 2016 but he was a first-round bust, Trevor Siemian was serviceable but wasn’t a franchise quarterback and Case Keenum, the big free-agent signee last year, didn’t pan out.
Elway thinks Flacco is the answer.
“He’s got a lot of experience, still has all the tools to make the throws and so it really turned out to be a perfect situation for us,” Elway said. “We’re glad it worked out.”
Denver’s offense is working under its fourth coordinator in four years and one who is new to the position. Rich Scrangarello was hired in January after two years as the quarterbacks coach in San Francisco. He is charged with turning around an offense that ranked 24th in points in 2018.
“I’m really excited to get to work with Rich,” Flacco said. “If you look at the offense, there is a lot of familiarity that I have with that. I’m happy to see that. At the same time, it doesn’t even really matter. I’m excited about the fact that this is the offense and that Rich is the guy that’s going to run things. I had a couple good meetings with him today and just talking with him on the phone, I’m really excited about it.”
Flacco had a memorable postseason run in 2012 when he led the Ravens to the Super Bowl title. He burned the Broncos, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with a 70-yard TD pass to send the game into overtime. The Ravens won, 38-35, in double OT and then went on to beat New England and San Francisco to win it all.
Flacco had 11 TD passes and no interceptions in four playoff games that season and earned a big contract as a result. He signed an extension in 2016 and is due $63 million over the next three years.
He became expendable in Baltimore after rookie Lamar Jackson became the starter last season – at a much cheaper price – and the Broncos felt Flacco was a good fit in Denver.
“Being in Baltimore for as long as I was, and not being there anymore and how it ended, obviously there’s probably going to be a portion of that that motivates me,” Flacco said. “But if I was relying on things like that to motivate me, that’d probably last for one week and then I’d shut off. My motivation really comes from wanting to be the best, and just really loving the game and loving coming into this building and going onto that practice field and being with the guys.”
Bringing in Flacco comes under similar circumstances when Manning was signed as a free agent in 2012. The Indianapolis Colts wanted to build around rookie Andrew Luck so they let Manning hit free agency. He led Denver to two Super Bowls and a title in four years.
The Broncos would love that kind of success, as would Flacco.
“I don’t care what the expectations were for people at some point, everybody’s real expectations are to go win games and be in the playoffs,” Flacco said. “Then from there, see what happens and go win a Super Bowl. That’s what everybody’s trying to do, and that’s what I’m trying to do the rest of my career—win the Super Bowl.”