Who is Baltimore’s Second Greatest QB?

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Vinny Cerrato as he often does, has been spewing venom on 105.7 The Fan. He has unfairly targeted Haloti Ngata and Jacoby Jones in the past for conjured up reasons.

Maybe that’s his shtick. Maybe that’s what he’s paid to do, like a plunger in a clogged toilet.

You get the picture.

It would be interesting to hear how he might critique his own work as a twice-fired NFL GM, but I digress…

Now Cerrato’s venom is aimed at Joe Flacco whom he claims doesn’t love the game and isn’t the leader the Ravens paid for because he hasn’t rallied his pass catchers for a little backyard football. That wasn’t such an issue during the 2012 season, was it?

My colleague Brian Bower opined on this silliness yesterday in a piece titled, “Should Flacco Be Doing More This Offseason”.

In the heavily participated comments section one poster suggested that Joe Flacco was Baltimore’s second greatest quarterback of all time (of course John Unitas being the greatest). The thought made me pause and ponder that a bit.

And then it inspired this blog.

Joe Flacco is NOT the second best QB to play in Baltimore. That distinction belongs to former Baltimore Colts quarterback Bert Jones.

Jones, the second selection in the 1973 NFL Draft (DE John Matuszak was 1st) was a terrific athlete who carried the mid-70’s Colts on his back. If you want perspective here’s a little…

From 1975-79 the Colts were 36-12 with Jones under center. When the former LSU Tiger was sidelined with a recurring separated shoulder, the Colts were 5-21 (thanks @ChrisRclusby).

In 1976 Jones won league MVP honors while throwing for 3,104 yards, 24 TD’s and a passer rating of 102.5 – quite a milestone since only 3 QB’s eclipsed the 100 mark during the entire decade of the 70’s. It was a time when the game didn’t so heavily favor offense and defensive backs could regularly mug receivers when the ball wasn’t in flight.

Jones played during a tumultuous time for the Baltimore franchise permanently scarred by the drunken escapades of team owner Bob Irsay, referred to by his mom as “the devil.” But even the heavy burden of an overly dramatic front office couldn’t slow No. 7 down on the field.

The “Ruston Rifle” had a cannon for an arm.

I have had the pleasure of doing a radio/TV show with former Colts All-Pro Bruce Laird in Ocean City for a number of years and he gushes over his teammate. Bruce said that during practice he didn’t have to be facing Bert to know the ball was thrown in his direction.

He could hear it.

Now that’s velocity!

During the parties prior to Super Bowl XXXV I ran into Lydell Mitchell in Ybor City, incredibly nice guy. We talked about a number of things and one of them was Bert. I said, “Lydell, I know I might be biased but I believe that Bert was every bit as good as John Elway.”

Lydell didn’t hesitate to say, “at least.”

If only Jones could have stayed healthy.

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His shoulder woes couldn’t be offset by medicine back then. Today, a quarterback written off as “done” can still return thanks in part to advances in medicine and win a Super Bowl and be a perennial Pro Bowler.

Just ask Drew Brees.

Those who support Flacco as the No. 2 all-time Baltimore quarterback will remind us that Jones didn’t win a single playoff game and he doesn’t have a ring. Flacco’s resume is vastly superior in that department.

But Flacco hasn’t had to play with mediocre talent or a rudderless franchise without direction.

He doesn’t have to play during an era where dynasties existed like the Steelers, Raiders and Dolphins who dominated the 70’s. Joe enjoys parity.

He doesn’t have to play on fields that resemble dirt covered parking lots nor during a time when quarterbacks could be tossed around like rag dolls.

And as bad as many think the Ravens offensive line was in 2013, Bert Jones was once sacked 12 times in a single game in 1980.

But then there’s the ring…

Undoubtedly Joe Flacco was a tremendous contributor to that 2012 ring. But if that ring is your barometer, think about Trent Dilfer – remember Dan Marino.

If the Ravens don’t win in 2012, does that make Dilfer a better QB than Joe?

And even with the ring is Flacco a better QB than Marino?

Joe Flacco for the moment is No. 3 with a bullet. Time will tell if he takes over that No. 2 spot.

But not yet…

Who is Baltimore's 2nd Greatest QB of All-Time?
Bert Jones (58%)
Joe Flacco (42%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Lombardi's Way by Tony Lombardi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

36 Raves on “Who is Baltimore’s Second Greatest QB?

  1. Brandon on said:

    Joe Flacco shines when the stakes are highest. He kind of struggles through the regular season doing just enough to win a majority of games, but the playoffs he is an elite QB. I would take Flacco over Jones any day.

    • john fratta on said:

      It’s this simple.Johnny U & Joe have rings period.As far as Bert being hurt the fact is he was hurt and if you can’t play you can’t win.I think that Joe may have more consecutive starts inc playoffs as Jones had starts. P.S., I loved Jones.

  2. RAYVENRAYG on said:

    I didn’t consider Bert & or Vinny in my comments because they never delivered a championship. The difference between JOE’S – Ring & TRENT’S ring was a playoff run equaling JOE MONTANA’S.
    Trent also had a much better if not, the best ever defense. The 2012 Defense was not equal to the one Trent enjoyed. They both had Ray Lewis. Trent had Jamal Louis to put games away – Joe’s was much harder to achieve. Additionally they never were lauded for offseason pitch & catch sessions and not being good enough per statistical loving fans. Bert did great with what he had as did Vinny. There also were no BLOGGERs & talk radio to bash them all offseason or when they stunk it up either.

  3. Mike on said:

    Different eras spawn different players. I only vaguely remember Jones with Colts, but the team was second fiddle in Baltimore to the Orioles back in those days, so I did not watch as much football as I did baseball as a child. With that said, I think that there is not a clear #2 QB in Baltimore history. I don’t think that Flacco would have been as good in Jones era as he is today. I am not sure that Jones would have been as good today as he was in the 70s. I think we have to call them 2a and 2b.

  4. JWS on said:

    TL, sad to say Vinny is right ( that is hard to say because he never is!) on Flacco. Joe’s work habits stink, he makes no effort to get better, has bad fundementals, is very inaccurate passer, never talks to teamates on the sidelines about pass patterns, does not spend as much time in the film room as is needed if one wants to put him franchise quarterback area. His ONLY claim to fame is hat the TEAM, not just Flaaaco won, while he has beeen the QB here. Trying to compare eras of players at any position with today’s fans having never seen the past ones like Bert Jones play (as I did every game), you cannot get a realistic opinion. Jones had many good pointsand by far is much better than Flacco ever hopes to be but he never won a Super Bowl so is that the main reason to say any one is better? Bert has many great points but he was by far the biggest cry baby I ever watch in any game since 19565 with his constant complains to refs on almost every pass play that failed by running up to them and getting in their face which today he would get him 15 yardsr but he did not back then! Defining and comparing players from 1975 to 2013 cannot just use stats or NFL film highlights,you had to see them play. When you compare 50′s,70′s or 2010 or later players with different rules and different situations it is really impossible. Not too many ex-players especiall quarterbacks, national media outlets ever have put Flacco in the top QBS as the locals do and they should not because he does not belong there! In the Colt era we had severalgoodones but since the Ravens arrived fans today can rate him#3 best in history of Baltimore but please leave the talk of how good he is to watching him play not just winning stats!

    • Rich on said:

      “Joe’s work habits stink, he makes no effort to get better, has bad fundementals, is very inaccurate passer, never talks to teamates on the sidelines about pass patterns, does not spend as much time in the film room as is needed”

      The fact that you think you know anything about any of these issues is laughable.

      Basing anything on what dopes like Cerrato say to entice listeners to his radio show isn’t sound logic.

  5. Fred on said:

    Being old enough to remember the 1970′s Colts, I would have to give the nod to Bert Jones here – for now. Jones did indeed carry those Colts on his back in a much less QB-friendly era, and in an offensive scheme that showed even less imagination than Cam Cameron’s. Jones was a great athlete – not that Flacco isn’t – but Jones was real threat to take off and get big yardage with his legs. Both guys could be said to have cannons for right arms. Jones’ success was cut short because he didn’t stay healthy, and in this regard we have been spoiled by Flacco’s durability. I hoipe that continues to be true going forward, and if it does I may change my opinion in the future and rank Joe higher – but for now I’ll give the slight edge to Jones.

  6. John P on said:

    Tony, normally your articles are excellent. You certainly have the most heart of anyone writing about Baltimore football.

    But I’m still shaking my head at this whole “debate”.

    Your comparisons are borderline hysterical. You use Marino as a barometer because he never won a Super Bowl. Of course, you forget that Marino is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who pretty much owned every passing record while he was alive. And Jones??? SHM.

    You then use Trent Dilfer as a comparison because he won a Super Bowl. True, but what other playoff games did he win? Heck, he couldn’t even win the starting job from the great Tony Banks! SMH some more.

    You then mention the issue of parity. So what? It just means that we can’t provide Joe as much offensive talent as what could have been provided to Bert. It says nothing at all about the talent provided to either man.

    Finally, you mention the “dominant teams”. That, coupled with parity simply means that Joe faces tougher opponents week in and week out than Bert did. And the teams at the top in 2012 (Denver, NE, and SF) would compete quite well against those other teams. Not saying they’d win every game, but they wouldn’t lose them all either.

    Bert was fun to watch, and so is Joe. But the truth is that Bert’s a bit like Tony Romo and Joe’s a bit like Eli Manning. And of those two, we all know which you’d rather have on YOUR team!

    • John P on said:

      LMAO! “while he was alive”!!!! I know Marino’s alive! HAHAHA!

      I meant “while he was playing”. That’s what I get for multitasking!

  7. Jim on said:

    I saw both. I think its a little premature to crown #2 yet. The entire book isn’t written on Joe, especially now that he is free of the antiquated 1980s AC offense.

    Right now, I’d say that Bert is definitely a better regular season QB. He’d light up any average to below average D, whereas Joe would only be solid against the average to below average defenses. Postseason, when you face better competition, Joe had/has the ability to up his game. Bert would come up short. Sure he had to face one of the best Ds of all time, Steelers in 1975 & 76, but if he had only an average game against the Raiders in 77, the Colts would have won. That Ray Chester pass was Andy Dalton like.

    I see it as a poor mans Marino vs. Montana comparison… Dan was the much better regular season QB over Joe. But when the playoffs came along, and the Defenses faced were a lot better, Joe M raised his game. Just look at the stats, Dan came down to earth. Same thing with Flacco and Jones. Personally, I’ll take the better playoff QB over the regular season giant any day of the week.

  8. Joshua on said:

    In all fairness, you, TL, have questioned Flacco’s desire in the past as well. Have your feelings toward that changed?

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      I’ve questioned his desire to be great. I didn’t say he doesn’t love the game because he’s not hanging out in the backyard throwing the football around.

  9. Chuck on said:

    I’ve had the pleasure of seeing all of these quarterbacks….in fact I was there watching Bert for the “Ghost to the Post” double-overtime game against the Raiders. Jones, the “Rushton Rifle” was great! If not for a little team named the Steelers, he very well could have had a ring. It seemed it was constantly the Colts and the Steelers vying to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. If Bert played in today’s quarterback friendly scheme, he’d be right up there with Brady, Manning and the others. So….right now….I’d have to go with Bert after John. He had all the potential in the world until his injury. Who knows, in time, maybe Joe Cool can win a couple more rings and wind up as #1! Sorry, John!

  10. james on said:

    When did Vinny become Mike Preston. Both seem to get off by spewing hate towards the Ravens. I guess that sells papers and gets listeners

  11. Hut Guy on said:

    Bert Jones made every snap an adventure and was really fun to watch, Flacco , despite last year knows how to win, Vinny Testaverde was 4 TDPS and 4 Picks on a consistent basis, Trent Dilfer managed us to a Super Bowll win, George Shaw was decent until he was unseated by Johnny U. and …. Steve McNair gave us one great season. My 2nd favorite…. then is……..Joe Cool. 5 straight playoff appearances AND a Super Bowl..it is no brainer

    • midnightblues on said:

      Then you never watched Burt play. He did carry the Colts on his back for many years and if not hurt who knows. He was leader by example and his leadership is only second to Mr. U. He would let you know if you were giving your all.

  12. Dave on said:

    Nobody seems to mention that the only reason that Flacco won a Superbowl was because of the pass catching ability of Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pita. His QB skills did not win that SB as was shown last year with Boldin gone and Pita out most of the year. Yes, his offencsive line did not do the best job in the world, but he is very slow at making decisions when he has to skip to his second or third choice on a pass play. He is a good quarterback, but there is a lot of room for improvement before you can put him in the “Elite” status.

  13. John on said:

    Bert Jones all the way. He could carry a team and, had the killer instinct , best arm of his time , and a great athlete.

  14. SmittyATL on said:

    I like Joe Flacco. He has a very strong arm, stays cool under pressure, and earned a Super Bowl ring. But Bert was The Man!

  15. Anonymous on said:

    I think a lot of people see Bert Jones through rose-colored glasses. There seems to be a lot of nostalgia attached to him which I see as a mistake. Conversely, people are a lot more critical of Joe Flacco than is likely deserved. Here’s my argument:
    -Bert Jones was oft-injured. Flacco has played more games, even excluding playoff games, in 6 years than Bert Jones did in his entire time with the Colts.
    -His completion percentage with the Colts was 54.8% while Joe Flacco’s completion percentage has been 60.2%
    -Bert Jones has made the playoffs 3 times in his career and lost in the first game each time (twice being absolutely destroyed). This while Flacco has made it 5 times, winning at least once each time, winning a Super Bowl, and setting a few records along the way.
    -I can’t comment on Jones’ receiving corps but I don’t believe Flacco has ever had a steady receiving corps which makes it really difficult to reach your potential as a QB
    -Many point to the fact that Jones had little defense to play with but while I concede that Flacco has played with some great defenses, I think we all can recall a few games in which Flacco has had to save the game.
    -Many recall Jones’ cannon of an arm but the fact that no one can compare to Joe’s arm strength in the current NFL, I seriously doubt Bert’s arm was better.

  16. O'Shea on said:

    I think a lot of people see Bert Jones through rose-colored glasses. It would seem he’s looked back on with nostalgia and conversely Joe Flacco is criticized more so than may be called for. I want to preface this by saying these two QBs come from two completely different eras so comparing them to start is a disservice to both but as long as we’re doing this, here’s my argument:
    -Bert Jones was oft-injured. Flacco has played more games, even excluding playoff games, in 6 years than Bert Jones did in his entire time with the Colts.
    -His completion percentage with the Colts was 54.8% while Joe Flacco’s completion percentage has been 60.2%
    -Bert Jones has made the playoffs 3 times in his career and lost in the first game each time (twice being absolutely destroyed). This while Flacco has made it 5 times, winning at least once each time, winning a Super Bowl, and setting a few records along the way.
    -Many point to the fact that Jones had little defense to play with but while I concede that Flacco has played with some great defenses, I think we all can recall a few games in which Flacco has had to save the game.
    -I can’t speak to Jone’s receiving corps but I know that Flacco has never had a consistent receiving corps which makes it very difficult to craft an offensive report, and as such, a great offensive stat sheet
    -Many recall Jones’ cannon of an arm but the fact that no one can compare to Joe’s arm strength in the current NFL, I seriously doubt Bert’s arm was better.

  17. BmoreB on said:

    Maybe Bert was a better QB than Flacco but as a fan I couldn’t care less. Dilfer and Flacco both will have a special place in my football heart for bringing the ultimate prize to Charm City. There’s simply nothing like being a part of that SB run and celebrating the biggest of all wins.

    So maybe the talent level can be debated but the good thing is. Flacco still has plenty of time to get another ring or two. If and when that happens, rankings get a lot easier.

  18. Leon on said:

    I agree that Bert Jones was better, but Joe Flacco still (hopefully) has a lot of good years left. People talk about how Joe needs better weapons, but having watched the Colts in the late 70′s, Bert really could only depend on Roger Carr and Lydell Mitchell- Glenn Doughty was average at best and Raymond Chester dropped a lot of passes that hit him in the numbers. Once Carr got hurt, it was only Bert and Lydell. It took Joe several years to beat the Steelers defense and they were not nearly as good as the Mean Joe Green led D of the 70′s, especially considering the rule changes since then. Bert’s injuries kept him from getting that chance. For those questioning Bert’s toughness, he played a lot of games wearing a flak-jacket to protect his broken ribs!

  19. Mr. Oldman on said:

    what, no love for Tracy Ham? He’s got a ring in B’more too! Just kidding Tony. Well written as usual. My parents (huge Johnny U fans) had season tix for most of Bert’s career, so I was there a lot (3rd base upper deck around the 35). I was there for the fog game (Dolphins I think) and the plane into the upper deck game (Pitt loss). He did have a cannon (and Roger “ears” Carr). He had to put up with a lot of crap given the state of the team/owner/gm. Joe’s got a chance to be better than him, but given the rule changes and all, not…..quite…..yet.

  20. JL on said:

    I grew up a HUGE Bert Jones fan. It’s tough to say who is #2 because Joe still has many years left to play. Sadly, Jones’s career ended short. Joe is an unbelievable 4th quarter qb and pressure does not phase him at all. Bert was terrific.

    I could not agree more about Vinny Cerrato’s negative comments! Who is he to demand what Joe does a few weeks after the season?? There’s still plenty of time before training camp. He really makes a fool of himself with these ridiculous comments on the air. His nonsensical tirades are downright embarrassing. He constantly bashed Joe last year until he lead us to win Super Bowl XLVII and then quieted down….temporarily. He needs to stop this garbage already.

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