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Indianapolis Colts

Joe Flacco ready to support Anthony Richardson and re-unite with Shane Steichen as Colts' backup quarterback

The Colts on Friday signed the 39-year-old Flacco as a free agent. 

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco has seen just about everything over the course of his 16-year NFL career.

About every blitz package and coverage scheme? Check. Playoff berths, good seasons, bad seasons? Check. A Super Bowl where the lights go out? Check. A young, explosive quarterback? Check. All those mid-2010s "elite" meters? Check. A Comeback Player of the Year Award won after coming off his couch and into the postseason? Check.

All those experiences, and all the banked knowledge and wisdom the 39-year-old Flacco possesses, are the starting point for how he can support the 21-year-old Anthony Richardson in 2024.

"I think the biggest thing as a quarterback being able to play fast and efficient," Flacco said in an interview for "Overtime" on the Colts Audio Network and YouTube. "And I think when you simplify things down to the lowest level, that gives you the best chance of doing that. So a lot of the times we're sitting in the meeting room and things com up and you here a young guy talking – 'well I saw this and then I saw that so that made me do this and then I did that,' and it's like, whoa, you don't need to do all that. Do your job - take your drop, get your eyes there, make your decisions and move on.

"When you play a long time, you find a very natural way that you can relate to other players that maybe sometimes coaches, they're not back there, they put in a little different terminology that maybe you don't understand. So hopefully I can relay that message a little bit more clearly in certain cases."

Flacco hadn't yet joined the Cleveland Browns while Richardson started four games in 2023, but he saw head coach Shane Steichen continue to evolve as an offensive mind and playcaller. While with the Philadelphia Eagles for a stretch in 2021, Flacco began to see the nascent stages of Steichen – then the Eagles' offensive coordinator – becoming, in his eyes, a well-rounded playcaller.

"I think most of Shane's coaching career had probably been part of teams that drop back and throw the ball around a lot," Flacco said. "And I think in Philadelphia, it was his first – not first, but he got a little bit more of a taste of a really physical offensive line, a team that can run the ball a little bit. So from my perspective, he would probably argue this a little bit, but it gave him a really good background in terms of already having that pass-heavy type of background to being with a team that really runs the ball well and has a lot of value because they run the ball well.

Joe Flacco earned AP Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2023 with the Cleveland Browns, who he quarterbacked to a 4-1 record and AFC wild card berth as a starter. In those five games, Flacco completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,616 yards with 13 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a passer rating of 90.2.

"So I think the fact that he now has both of those things going for him, especially with (Jonathan Taylor) here and the offensive line that's here, I think those things are really important and I think he's developed into the kind of play caller that sees value in both of those things. And that's why when these guys get rolling on offense, it's tough stuff."

Flacco, too, was lured to Indianapolis in part because of the brief crossover he had with Steichen and a few other members of the Colts' coaching staff while on the Eagles' practice squad. There, Flacco worked with Shane Steichen (now the Colts' head coach) and offensive quality control Alex Tanney (now the Colts' passing game coordinator); Colts offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter served as a consultant for the Eagles in 2021 as well.

Those voices, along with quarterback coach Cam Turner, are trusted with scheming an offense for Richardson and helping the young quarterback grow in the early stages of his career. And with Flacco on board, the veteran can be a sounding board and example for Richardson in 2024.

"The first thing is when we go out to the practice field, everybody raises each other up by practicing hard and practicing well, doing certain things that way," Flacco said. "But we spend so much time in that meeting room together, when we're game-planning or installing things or trying to work our way through new concepts and things like that. I think as we watch the film and as we install it, there's all kind of things that come up in terms of how Shane and Jim Bob and Alex all see those things, and then how I've kind of been able to see those things throughout my career."

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