Who would you prefer over Flacco…
…and keep in mind, the goal is to win the Super Bowl. Not to lead the league in passing yards or fantasy points.
Each year, seemingly every publication out there puts out a ranking of the NFL’s quarterbacks. Each year, everyone in Baltimore calls everyone’s ranking of Joe Flacco, blasphemous.
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The rankings are often based on who is poised for a great season to come, and a little of how the previous season went. Everyone judges a little different, but the one constant is that Joe Flacco often gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. (No respect, for you young kids out there). Here is where Flacco ranks among a number of outlets.
NFL Top 100 players, as voted on by the players – Flacco comes in at #97 overall, and #12 on the list of quarterbacks. Six other Ravens players made the list ahead of Flacco. (Mosley, Yanda, Forsett, Suggs, Smith, Dumervil).
ESPN Fantasy Football rankings – Flacco ranks #20. Sure he isn’t a fantasy monster. But are you really more willing to roll with Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, and Teddy Bridgewater, ranked over Flacco?
Monday Morning QB by Sports Illustrated – They were the most generous giving Flacco a ranking of #8. Tough to argue with, and no surprises ahead of him.
Fansided – They rank our guy unlucky #13. They expect Flacco to fall somewhere in the middle of his epic 2012 playoff run, and his putrid 2013 season. Did they forget that there was football in 2014, and it was one of Flacco’s best regular seasons, topped off with another road playoff win?
Rant Sports – Flacco gets #14 from them. They also put Ryan Tannehill in their top ten, expecting a big year given the additions of Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, and Jordan Cameron. Yawn.
CBS Sports – They did a “How screwed is your team” based on the quarterback position, so a high number is good (Andrew Luck is #32 because his numbers keep getting better, and he’s still on that rookie contract). Flacco and the Ravens, #15! According to them, the Jaguars and Raiders (#19 and #18), are in better shape with their quarterbacks, Blake Bortles and Derrek Carr, then the Ravens are with Flacco. They wrote “…Flacco, outside of one Super Bowl run, has never been any good…” and that’s where I stopped reading.
So as you can see, except for the MMQB guys, no respect for our guy Joe.
What would be a good list, a great way to rank quarterbacks would be this. The goal is to win the Super Bowl, right? If you are going to win the Super Bowl, who do you want to lead you’re team in 2015? Here are my rankings giving you the harsh truth, and with focus of course on our guy, Joe Flacco. I’ll only assign numbers to the top ten, because I’m not interested in wasting time, splitting hairs over the 28th and 29th ranked guys. Who do you want leading your team in 2015?
Not a chance
Bills QB X (E.J. Manuel, Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor) – Moving on…
Browns QB X (Johnny “Football” “Bench” Manziel, Josh McCown) – Cleveland. Where quarterbacks go to die.
Rookie QB X (Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston) – Completely unproven, and both uninspiring.
Geno Smith – The biggest distraction, Rex Ryan, is gone. Maybe he improves, but doubtful.
Robert Griffin III – Too often hurt, or in the coaches dog house.
Sam Bradford – Inability to stay healthy, or play quarterback effectively.
Ryan Mallet – The Texans have a heck of a team around him. But, no. Ryan Mallett is not a big game quarterback.
Derek Carr – It’s the Raiders. Give me break.
Teddy Bridgewater – Game manager at best. Potential in the coming years, but not this year.
Colin Kaepernick – The 49ers are in a worse place without Jim Harbaugh then they think. Kaep may have already peaked, and resorts to using his legs too much. Crabtree is gone too.
Jay Cutler – Always has some of the best offensive weapons around him, and always under performs. Zero leadership.
Andy Dalton – Booed at a celebrity softball game in Cincinnati. Probably because Dalton and softball teammate, Snoop Dogg, have won the same amount of playoff games.
Matt Stafford – Too many reckless throws. He would be in the “Not a chance” tier without Megatron often bailing him out.
Gives a little bit of hope
Carson Palmer – Led the Cardinals to nine wins in ten games before tearing his ACL in 2014. But he isn’t getting any younger.
Alex Smith – The ultimate game manager. He can win games, but don’t count on him to put the team on his back when the going gets tough.
Ryan Tannehill – Getting very over hyped this offseason. Given the chance in the past to control Miami’s destiny for a playoff berth, he has failed.
Nick Foles – One of the only guys with less weapons than Joe Flacco, and big regression from 2013 last year. His true self lies somewhere in the middle, which is very average. But that Rams defense, look out.
Matt Ryan – Take away just one weapon and we see his true colors. This year, new head coach, new OC in Kyle Shannahan who did big things in Washington and Cleveland, right?
On the fringe
Cam Newton – Has a lot to live up to given that new contract. He needs to take over games before I put him any higher.
Phillip Rivers – Dude has the ability to win games and put up some good numbers. But emotions always seem to get the better of him. Not a quality I want when the pressure is on.
The top 10 – One of whom WILL hoist the Lombardi Trophy
10. Eli Manning – He can beat anyone, on any given day. You don’t accidently slip trip and fall into two Super Bowl rings. He has a tendency to throw a lot of picks, but he’s got possibly the best receiving crew he has ever had, which should help in that department.
9. Peyton Manning – I know what you’re thinking. I’m crazy. But Manning is a dinosaur, and if you have seen him play in cold, wet weather in the last three years, you’ll see why he is down here on the “Who do you want to make a Super Bowl run with” list. Not the “who do you want to get you to the fantasy playoffs, only to crap the bed in a cold, rainy, late season game costing you a fantasy title,” list. No doubt one of the best ever. But he’s just padding stats at this point. Not adding to his jewelry box.
8. Drew Brees – That arm has has done a lot of throwing in his now tenth year manning the helm in New Orleans. He has started every game but one for them, has a ring from five years ago, and at age 36, is just now showing the slightest signs of regression. Turnovers were up and touchdowns were down for him in from 2013 to 2014. Take away his safety net, Jimmy Graham who is now in Seattle. I see even more regression in the TD department.
7. Tony Romo – After nine years as a starter, he finally put together his second really good season. He has the ability to play well, and has receiving weapons. Often scrutinized, but the numbers don’t lie that he’s got talent. But he is 35 now, and coming off yet another back injury. For 2015, I think there is a lot of room for regression for a guy that hasn’t strung together two really good years yet. His injury history scares me, as he could be sidelined at any moment.
6. Andrew Luck – He was one game away from going to the Super Bowl a year ago. He will throw some bad interceptions at times when he tried to do too much. But he can make all kinds of plays with his arms, and his feet too. The Colts will probably be the AFC favorites with Brady, for now, slated to miss the first four games. They’ll be the favorites solely because of Andrew Luck. Without him, the Colts probably couldn’t win a game. But he needs to prove more in big games, and make less careless mistakes to be higher on the list. He has a knack for bringing a team back late in games, but only because a reckless throw or two put them in a hole to start with. If the goal is to win a Super Bowl, you might want a guy who has already done it, like the top five on the list.
5. Ben Roethlisberger – Anytime he takes the field, he gives his team a chance to win. It’s rare that he alone costs his team a game. But playoff wins have been tough to come by for him in recent years, and Antonio Brown’s catch and run ability has inflated some of his counting stats. He has taken a beating over the years too, and that will slow him down at some point soon.
4. Joe Flacco – I know. Homer pick, right? Wrong. Listen. What does it take to make a Super Bowl run? Win enough games to make the playoffs. Check. He does this every year, and the one year in seven he missed, was thanks largely to the struggles around him, and they were still in it come week 17. You have to sometimes go on the road to a hostile environment and win a game to advance. Check. He does this every single year. Pittsburgh, Denver, New England, he has conquered all of them. Not to mention, Miami, Tennessee, Kansas City. You have to be able to play games in adverse conditions in winter months. Check. The temperatures were well into the single digits when he launched a Hail Mary to Jacoby Jones, sending the Ravens to OT in Denver a few years back. Two years ago he overcame blizzard conditions for most of the day in a must win game against the Vikings to keep playoff hopes alive, hitting Marlon Brown for the game winning score as time expired. You need a guy who isn’t going to buckle under the pressure. Check, a hundred times check. Flacco has found himself in more pressure packed situations then a lot of QBs because he often has his team in a position to win. The pressure was even greater in 2012 when he said he thinks he’s the best player on the field (because if you think otherwise, you lack confidence and you will lose). He had to back it up all year, and low and behold his 2012 postseason run ranks up there as the best ever with the likes of Joe Montana.
3. Tom Brady – Let’s see how this jerk performs within the confines of the rule book. All that drama aside, he is one of the best, and doesn’t need to cheat to be good. Then again, maybe he does. Brady just won his first Super Bowl without spying on other teams practices. Although he broke the rules to get there. Maybe he does need to cheat. What scheme will he and Belichick conjure up during Brady’s four weeks off? If you don’t care about a tainted legacy, #12 is a good bet if you want to go to the Super Bowl.
2. Russell Wilson – No one has done more in their little time in the league than Wilson. He is one botched play call (Give it to Lynch on the one yard line stupid!!) away from having two rings already, and getting better every year. He uses his legs, but only when he needs too. He isn’t a freelancer like the Michael Vick’s and Kaepernicks of the world. Add Jimmy Graham to his arsenal, you might as well lock in at least another NFC title game appearance.
1. Aaron Rodgers – Maybe the only QB in the NFC capable of beating the Seahawks defense and the young gun, “Danger” Russ Wilson. He and the Packers represent the NFC in the title game last year if the “hands” team catches the ball that hits them…in the “hands”. Rodgers is everything you want. Cool under pressure. Pocket awareness. Throws with surgical accuracy on the run. Cold weather, sleet, hail, fog, tornado, he can handle it. He’s easy to root for as well, always playing with that chip on his shoulder from the day the 49ers passed him up as the #1 overall pick to take Alex Smith. He might not be the absolute best at any one specific part of the game. But he does everything a QB has to do at a very high level. Similar to golf’s Jordan Spieth. He can do it all. Rodgers has the best overall tools to get the job done.
Back to Flacco
Every year, the experts come out with these lists, where Flacco ranks in the teens somewhere. And every year, when he is one of the last four to eight QBs still playing in January, everyone gives Flacco his due for one or two weeks. The media, the commentators, are just in awe, that here is Joe Flacco, once again, six times now, defying the odds, and winning important playoff games, in the toughest conditions. Like it’s a surprise. If once is an outlier, and twice is a fluke, and three times is a trend, what is six times and five in row?
On top of that, I’ll go ahead and say that Joe Flacco has played well enough that he should have appeared in three Super Bowls by now. Lee Evans drop in 2011 cost him in the AFC title game. Flacco got redemption in 2012 and won the whole damn thing in epic fashion. He played well enough in 2014 to beat the Patriots, throwing four TDs in the game, but a long list of things outside of his control led to the Ravens demise. Trick plays by the Patriots showing their desperation. The Ravens defense squandering two, 14 point leads. Torrey Smith’s lackluster effort on the final chance the Ravens had. Yeah, they would have had to beat the Colts the next week to go to another Super Bowl, but Joe likely would have. At the very least, you know he would have played good enough himself to have gotten the team there. Had he gotten to three, maybe won them all, at least two, maybe we are talking dynasty. Maybe he shoots to the top of a lot of lists.
Experts can keep their lists. I’ll keep taking Flacco in January and February football in Baltimore.
Who would you rather have lead you with the Super Bowl as the goal? For me, as you can see, it’s a short list. I can live with any of the top five, but only two are as easy to root for as Flacco.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]