ESPN recently released their fourth annual NFL QB Tier rankings (subscription required) where fifty league insiders ranked 36 quarterbacks in one of five tiers, with tier 1 reserved for the best of the best and tier five for the bottom feeders. Joe Flacco ranked in tier 3 with some insiders weighing in.
“I don’t know what to think on him,” a GM said. “I’ve never been impressed with the way he reads the field and the decisions he makes. He can throw the deep ball well. He is too inconsistent. He is certainly not a 1. He is either a 2 or a 3. I say 3.”
An offensive coordinator who conducted a study on the Ravens’ offense placed Flacco in the second tier, while saying the quarterback is sometimes criticized unfairly. (Aren’t they all?)
“He had a bad year [in 2016], but he is a function of who he has around him,” this coordinator said. “If the line is OK and they can run it a little bit, he can be a 2. But if they are going to put it on him just to throw, then they are going to struggle. He doesn’t process or read defenses very well, but he is physically gifted and he can throw the deep ball.”
Flacco falls into tier 3. Tier 1 is for the Tom Bradys and Aaron Rodgerses of the world and tier 2 is reserved for players like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Derek Carr. Flacco supporters will say that he has never had the same weapons at his disposal as the aforementioned signal callers, but his mechanics and decision making don’t match up with those types of players either. The back-foot throws and lack of progression through his reads causes frequent mistakes and turnovers.
Although he falls into tier 3, he has proven that when he is surrounded by the right supporting cast, a good offensive line and effective running game, he can lead the Ravens deep into the playoffs with a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl.
However, he has proven that he cannot carry a team or elevate the play of those around him. The biggest problem for the Ravens as they enter 2017 is the supporting cast and offensive line remain major question marks. The Ravens have good players but no one who defenses truly fear. The hope is that Breshad Perriman can emerge as that player. The offensive line, though, is a somewhat scary thought as the Ravens enter the regular season.
Joe Flacco is a slightly above average quarterback who knows how to turn it on come playoff time and raise his game.
When it comes to quarterback tiers, though, ranking him in the middle of the pack is a fair assessment.