countless volumes of virtual ink over the years in defending my quarterback,
Joe Flacco. It’s reached the point where I’ve pretty much exhausted myself –
Joe’s numbers speak for themselves. Whether you’re the type that points to
stats or the type that points to wins when judging quarterbacks, he’s produced
both (at times) during his four NFL seasons.
While listening to
National-types and out-of-towners bash Joe has become old hat, what really digs
at me is to hear my fellow Ravens fans hopping aboard the anti-Flacco
bandwagon. More times than not, I am able to drown out the blabber from
non-Ravens fans dissing Joe, and focus on trying to convince my fellow purple
faithful that they’re sorely mistaken.
However, this time
it’s one of those non-Ravens fans that has raised my ire. For whatever reason,this article from Bleacher Report today has my purple undies all in a bunch.
Flacco’s Overrated Arm Doesn’t Make Him an Elite NFL Quarterback,” Jessica
Isner’s little rant here presents no new information, falls on old stereotypes,
and conveniently ignores any data that contradicts her misguided assertions.
Let’s take a
closer look and FJM-style break down her article.
Just because your team won a bunch of games and you’ve
made it past the first round of the playoffs a couple of times doesn’t mean
you’re an elite NFL quarterback.
you’ve published a few articles on Bleacher Report doesn’t make you a writer.
Ok, that was mean.
I’m sorry Jessica. I’ll keep it on topic from here on out.
It could possibly mean that, but it also could mean a
variety of other things. It could mean that your defense is one of the best in
the league every year. It could mean you have a good supporting cast. It could
also mean that you play in the same division as the Browns and the Bengals,
which, for the last several years, has provided quite a bit of win-padding on
Alright, let me
stop you right there. First off, the Bengals won the AFC North in 2009, and were
a Wild-Card team in 2011. In between they were awful. Still, making the
playoffs in two of Joe’s four years hardly qualifies Cincinnati as a perennial
doormat, at least during his tenure.
Jesscia’s favorite team, the New England Patriots, play in a division with the
Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Far be it from me (or anyone else) to accuse
Tom Brady of “win-padding” during his time in the AFC East though, right? That
argument is a non-starter, Ms. Isner.
Some say that to be considered elite, you just need to
get your team enough wins to get to the playoffs consistently. That’s something Joe Flacco has
been able to do in each year he’s been in the league, which is certainly
impressive. But he still hasn’t won the game that matters the most because he’s
never had an opportunity to get there; in fact, he’s never been able to get
past the conference championship.
ignore that Flacco did, in fact, dispose of Tom Brady in the playoffs in 2009.
Yes, Ray Rice did all the heavy lifting and Joe had one of the worst
performances, stat-wise, of any playoff-game-winning quarterback ever.
argument here seems to be based on WINS in these games, and not stats.
Were it based on
stats, I could point out that Joe greatly outplayed Brady in the 2011 playoff
game (22-36, 306 yards, 2 TD vs. Brady’s 22-36, 239, 2 INT).
I could also
chastise Jessica for again conveniently forgetting that Joe led what should
have been the game-winning touchdown drive in the AFC Championship game only to
have a perfect pass slip out of Lee Evans’ hands in the end zone.
As a Patriots fan,
I’m sure Jessica’s heart sunk in that instant when she realized she had just
been eliminated by the "non-elite" Joe Flacco, until fate quickly intervened and the ball fell
to the turf.
"Phew! Hey, don’t worry you guys! He’s still not elite!"
Both of those guys have been to the big game a few
times. Both of them have even won it a couple of times. So has Eli Manning.
Flacco hasn’t even been there.
Now we’re back to
While Ben is an
extremely good NFL quarterback – I’m not here to argue otherwise – let’s be
honest: how much of his “elite” status is based on the fact that he boasts two
Super Bowl rings?
All of it, of
But do the same
reasons that Jessica poo-poo’s Joe Flacco’s accomplishments (playing his entire
career in the AFC North, having one of the best defenses in the league) not
also apply to Pittsburgh?
Does Ben pick up
his first ring in 2005 without the aid of the fourth-best defense in the NFL?
considering that his performance in Super Bowl XL was absolutely dismal.
Does he win his
second ring in 2008 without the league’s #1 overall defense backing him up?
The answer is
Again, my aim here
is not to diminish what Roethlisberger has accomplished. He fully deserves his
status among the game’s “elite.” My point is simply to shed light on the fact
that Jessica seems to be using two completely separate sets of criteria to
judge Joe when compared to his contemporaries.
If her argument
simply comes down to “Joe hasn’t won a Super Bowl,” then she should just say
that and save herself 800 words or so.
Flacco made headlines this week when, in the midst of
long-term extension negotiations with the Ravens, he told a Baltimore radio station that he believes he’s the best
quarterback in the NFL:
I assume everybody
thinks they’re a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I’m the best. I don’t
think I’m top-five, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’d be very successful
at my job if I didn’t feel that way. I mean, c’mon? That’s not really too tough of a question.
But that doesn’t mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means
that that’s the way it is, that’s the way I feel it is, and that’s the way I
feel it should be.
Nope, not “this
week.” In fact, Joe made those comments way back in April.
Jessica, like pretty much everybody else that has commented on Joe’s
(ill-advised) assertions, has taken them completely out of context and used
them to bolster her claims against him.
comments have been dissected to the point of exhaustion here in B’More, so I
won’t bother addressing them again.
The wee Manning, too, made a similar claim about a year ago (via Yahoo! Sports).
But Manning has been able to back it up with a couple of rings. It’s hard to
fault him for running his mouth; he’s officially earned the right to do so.
So was it OK for
Eli to make those claims after winning only his first Super Bowl ring? Or did
he have to wait until his second? Because he made them after only having won
the first of his two.
Had he “earned the
right” at the time he said the words, or has he only earned the right only in light of subsequent events?
What does Flacco have
to show for his claims, other than a 44-20 regular-season record that he can
hardly take full credit for, since it’s been critically bolstered by a defense
that consistently ranks among the best in the NFL?
than” a 44-20 record. Let’s ABSOLUTELY diminish the fact that those 44 wins are
the MOST EVER by a quarterback during his first four seasons in the NFL.
Oh, I forgot
though – every other starting QB in NFL history was not only throwing the ball,
but running it, catching it, and blocking for himself on offense, while then
also playing all 11 positions on defense and starring on special teams as well.
I mean that would
have to be the case right? Otherwise they could “hardly take full credit for”
any wins they may have compiled.
It’s impossible to look at his stats, particularly
from this season, and say that Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback.
Here we go. Flacco
bashers LOVE doing this. They’ll point to his (admittedly, mediocre) numbers
from 2011 while conveniently ignoring his stats from his first three seasons –
when he consistently improved – and failing to make mention of the fact that he
was working, in 2011, without his favorite two targets from early in his
career, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap.
sure, right Jessica?
Let’s look at the last five weeks of the 2011 season.
Against the Colts in Week 14 (a challenging opponent, no doubt), he posted a
74.2 completion percentage, throwing for 227 yards and two TDs. Good enough.
Oh, you’re taking
an even SMALLER sample size than the 2011 season? That’s fair.
But the week prior, against the Browns, his completion
percentage was 43.5. His quarterback rating was 66.9. He threw zero touchdowns.
After the Colts game came another decent week—two touchdowns and 226 yards,
nevertheless in a loss versus the Chargers. But then again, in Week 16 against
the Browns, he posted a 45.8 completion percentage with just 132 yards and a
73.6 QB rating.
It’s a small sample size, but the point is implicit:
Wrong, the point
isn’t implicit – it’s nonexistent.
For the majority of his career, he’s been too
inconsistent to be considered elite.
“The majority of
his career,” of course, being the final five weeks of the 2011 season. Right.
It’s also worth nothing that Flacco—Mr. Top Five—didn’t finish among the top five in
passer rating in 2011 (ESPN). Among those guys—Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Romo,
Stafford—are the true elites.
While of course
it’s NOT worth noting that he was seventh in passer rating in 2010, and was
second behind only Brady during weeks 3-17 of that year.
Could you say that he’s in the midst of a slump?
Could you use
ridiculous circular arguments and the smallest sample size possible to attempt
to distill his career and classify him as a scrub? Mmmmmmaybe.
But it’s impossible to tell whether Flacco is
truly an elite quarterback until after he successfully emerges from that slump.
I’d like to see how many wins Flacco could
post on a team like the Browns, the Raiders or the Dolphins.
When he does, we’ll know he’s elite.
Wait, did the
Raiders sign Joe and nobody told me?!
when he takes down one of the true elites when it matters most—in the
playoffs—we’ll really know.
Yeah, when he
takes down one of the elites in the Playoffs, then we’ll REALLY know. Like, oh,
I dunno, Tom Brady.
But unless his QB
rating is perfect when he takes down one of the elites, we still won’t REALLY
know, will we?
Look, I didn’t put
this together to say that Flacco is beyond criticism. Fans will complain and
analysts will analyze; it’s what we/they do.
Hell, I’ve heard
that in Green Bay you can listen to talk radio and even here the occasional
caller beating up on Aaron Rodgers.
My point is that,
by any objective measure – stats (with the exception of 2011), wins, Joe has
delivered. His detractors will lose either of those arguments 100 times out of
100 (unless, of course, they cherry-pick stats from a small sample of games as
Jessica did this time around).
at least have an argument that I will listen to (while vehemently disagreeing,
of course) is when they question his on-field leadership and lack of rah-rah
There is at least
a case to be made that Joe has not “taken the reigns” of the Baltimore Ravens
as a quarterback should.
My issue with that
line of thinking is that it is purely, 100% subjective. Not only that, but it’s
usually made by people that never played a down of competitive football in
their lives (at least not above, say, the high school level), and who are
likely completely overstating what (if any) effect Joe screaming and making a
scene on the sidelines would have on the fortunes of the team.
When a former NFL
player says it, it may carry more weight. Again, though, I’m inclined to point
said talking head back to the more objective, concrete measurements – wins, and
Has Joe taken the
Ravens to a Super Bowl yet? No, he obviously hasn’t.
Did he do pretty
much everything in his power to take that next step last January, only to see
Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff drop and shank it away?
Does that make him
Ugh, who cares. I
can’t stand that word any more. What I know is that I want Joe Flacco as my
quarterback and I’ll cringe every day that I wake up and his contract extension
I’d say it puts him right about where Ron Jaworski (who spurred this whole "overrated arm" thing by listing Joe’s as the best in the NFL) put him, at #9.
P.S. It certainly
makes him “more elite” than Ms. Isner’s “second-favorite” quarterback, Matt “I’ve
never won a playoff game in my life” Ryan.
P.P.S. Hey Jessica – Robert Andino.