As you may have noticed, there has been a re-occuring theme on this blog the last year and a half: Nate and I have basically taken turns taking a dump on Joe Flacco (don’t google image search that).
With that in mind, frequent reader and Ravens fan Ryan Artis stopped by to extract some of revenge.
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I feel like a dirty homer just typing this, but Joe Flacco deserves one of the richest contracts in NFL history.
I know that sounds weird seeing that sentence on this blog as Ben and Nate have spent the last year or so treating Joe Flacco as if he was a freshly released child molester that bought a house next to the local elementary school. Sure I have players who I can’t stand to see, Clay Matthews comes to mind, but my annoyance with Matthews seems like kid stuff compared to the treatment that one Joseph Vincent Flacco has received on the Footbawl Blog.
Nate mentioned in an article a few months back that he thought of Flacco as surly. Seriously, Nate? Surly? Shouldn’t surly be reserved for guys like Jay Cutler and any character that Billy Zabka played in movies from the 1980’s? As a Baltimore fan, I can toss out descriptors that have come to mind for Flacco, but surly was never really one of them at all. Goofy would be my first choice, whereas his Dad picked dull, his center picked boring and his brother went with nerd. I don’t see Flacco as surly as much I do just being an awkward guy who has no filter between mouth and microphone.
Without going way too deep, things have changed in the last 30 years in this country in regards to how we view our “heroes’. Once the media realized that the ratings were much bigger watching someone fall than they were seeing someone succeed, the worm turned. I think this is especially true for athletes as sports reporting has progressed from a daily article in your local newspaper to ESPN 24 hours a day, the NFL having its own network, and the rise of the internet.
The reality is that 30 years ago every quarterback was portrayed as either an honest god fearing white guy who loved his family, or the playboy quarterback who guys secretly wished they could be if they could only throw a ball and get away from their nagging wife. That was it, two archetypes. Now in the age of the 24 hour news cycle, everything is under a microscope. We get long debates on everything from Cam Newton’s pouting, to Collin Kaepernick’s tattoos. Part of being an NFL quarterback now is literally spending time with your publicist who tells you what to say and teaches you how to say it so that the media can’t spin it into a story.
Can’t ever state this enough, but perception is king. Aaron Rodgers, who I consider the best quarterback in the NFL, saw his draft stock plummet because NFL scouts thought he was a cocky, arrogant douchebag. Thus now whenever you do see Aaron Rodgers on camera, he comes off as the most humble guy you’ve ever seen. Was Rodgers humbled by his experience and became a solid guy? I have no clue, because the reality is that guys are trained to give stock answers now. Drew Brees is my favorite NFL quarterback, but I couldn’t tell you that Drew Brees isn’t the type of guy to go home and beat his wife and do cocaine off strippers definitively. With Joe Flacco, I am far more confident he is as dull as he seems because he hasn’t been savvy enough to lie to the media when they ask him questions.
A lot of the negative reactions to Flacco date back to his response to a question that 31 other NFL quarterbacks would have danced around. After stating in an interview that he felt to be an effective NFL quarterback you had to think of yourself as the best. A reporter asked the semi-loaded follow-up question of “Do you consider yourself the best?” and Joe made the mistake of saying “Yes, that all quarterbacks should think they are the best.” Joe was 100% wrong for not ducking that question. He was 100% right in his train of thought that you need to think of yourself as the best to effectively play quarterback in the NFL.
Now that Joe Flacco has won a Super Bowl is he the best? God, no! I don’t think you’ll find more than a handful of Raven fans who would say he is, but signs point to Joe being headed in that direction.
Let’s take a look at Flacco’s first five years in the NFL compared to the best QBs in the league . The four guys we all can agree are in the top tier are Peyton, Brees, Brady and Rodgers. Eli and Roethlisberger both have two rings, but we’ll leave them out because Eli legitimately seems to phone it in for half the year every year and I’ve decided that we will never know how good Roethlisberger could be playing behind the junior varsity offensive line that the Steelers seem to field every year. Of those top four I am also going to exclude Rodgers as he sat for three years, so it is hard to compare his first five years in the league.
A few of these players had Super Bowl appearances sooner, but Flacco has more wins than all of them. The usual response from detractors is that Flacco won games because of the Ravens defense, which early on was somewhat true. I witnessed Roethlisberger get hammered for this consistently until his second super bowl win, but everyone seems to give Tom Brady a pass because people have seemingly forgot that it was the vaunted Patriots defense that played a larger part in New England’s first two title wins in the Belichick era, as Brady was not yet what he is today.
So taking the first five years of Flacco, Brady, Brees, and Peyton, we find the following:
– Flacco has a better passing rating than Peyton and is only slightly behind Brees and Brady.
– Flacco has the least interceptions among that group.
– Flacco has a Super Bowl victory, Brees and Manning did not
– Flacco’s completion % is just under 61%, Brady, Brees and Manning were 62%
With those stats and the fact that Flacco after only five years sits in 9th place for most NFL play-off wins ever, and has the most road playoffs wins ever, his agent has a strong case. However, stats don’t always tell the entire story and at times Flacco has been wildly inconsistent. Many Ravens fans, myself included, will tell you that Cam Cameron’s play calling has played a large role in said inconsistency. The reality of the situation is that we can’t really confirm that this is true until we see Flacco play next year. He looked unstoppable during this play-off run, even tying Joe Montana’s 11 TD to 0 INT mark, but we’ve seen quarterbacks get hot before (Eli Manning).
The best comparison to look at for life without Cam Cameron is Drew Brees who averaged 21 TDs a season with Cam Cameron early on and generally struggled until he got emancipated. Flacco has averaged 20.4 TDs under Cameron, but then without him in the playoffs managed 11 in a four game span against some of the best teams in the AFC. To put that in perspective, if that was the regular season he’d be on his way to a 44 TD season.
So to wrap things up, whereas I strongly believe that Joe Flacco isn’t the best quarterback in the NFL right now, history seems to point to the fact that he may be worth the 100 million dollar investment down the road.