CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns have made so many changes to their roster and coaching staff since the end of the 2015 regular season that some of their AFC North Division rivals hardly recognize them.
Count Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco among those who recognize very few familiar faces on the Browns’ defense. But regardless of who is on the field for the Browns, Flacco plans on leading his team to victory at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
“There are a lot of young guys,” Flacco said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. “I don’t recognize a lot of the guys over there to be honest with you, so it is kind of funny that we are going in there and it seems like a pretty new group. I think they play hard and they play fast.
“You can tell that they are really trying to teach these guys how to run after the ball and have a non-stop motor. They have a lot of good, young guys that can get to the passer and do a good job in a lot of those things, so it will be interesting. Like I said, it is a new group over there. I recognize Joe Haden and there is not much more that you really are used to seeing over there, so it’s kind of funny.”
One face Flacco will recognize Sunday is that of Browns coach Hue Jackson.
Jackson served as the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Flacco’s first two years in the NFL.
“We had a lot of fun together,” Flacco said. “He is a fiery guy. He is a guy who likes to have fun. He likes to go out there and beat people up. I’m sure he will have these guys ready to go for us and for the season, but especially for this AFC battle.
“As a rookie and second-year quarterback, you have so much to learn so really a lot of things. I credit Hue for a ton of that. Hue Jackson and (former Ravens offensive coordinator) Cam Cameron brought me into this league and taught me a ton about NFL football, and I credit those guys.”
In 15 career starts against the Browns since the Ravens selected him in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Delaware, Flacco has posted a 13-2 record. He has completed 272 of his 444 attempts (61.3 percent) for 3,237 yards and 19 touchdowns against seven interceptions with a 91.2 quarterback rating
Flacco’s 19 touchdowns passes against the Browns are his most against any other opponent, and he has thrown for at least one touchdown in eight straight games versus Cleveland.
Flacco’s .867 winning percentage against the Browns is the third-best active success rate in the NFL. Only Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger against the Browns (19-2, .905) and Tom Brady against the Buffalo Bills (25-3, .892) have better winning percentages against a single opponent than Flacco.
“It is always good coming to Cleveland,” Flacco said. “I feel great coming off the game on Sunday getting back out there for the first time in a game, getting hit and all that. I’m excited about it.”