Tonight's Ravens/Falcons game has more storylines than your average preseason game. When Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan were taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft, their careers were forever linked.
Now, whenever a slow sports day occurs in Baltimore, they bring up this debate. Which of these quarterbacks has had the better NFL career so far? During their four years in the league, both have achieved some big wins for their respective franchises. Both can boast playoff appearances, and both are still looking for their first Lombardi trophy. Lets dig a bit deeper and see which signal-caller has had been the better pro thus far.
Since these guys arrived in the same draft class, it will be relatively easy to compare them. Over his first four years in the league, Joe Flacco has thrown 80 touchdowns and has started every game. Matt Ryan has thrown 15 more touchdowns (95 total) than Flacco during that time, despite playing two less games.
Ryan, the Boston College alum, has also improved his touchdown totals year after year, unlike Flacco who seemed to regress in 2011. Even though he has more interceptions to go with those touchdowns, I have to give this one to "Matty Ice."
Winner: Matt Ryan
This one is a no-brainer. Flacco has proven to be battle tested in the NFL playoffs, winning five games. Is this due to an elite defense? That's hard to say (even though he failed to throw a touchdown in four of his playoff appearances). If Lee Evans catches that touchdown against the Patriots in the AFC championship game, this debate isn't even happening.
Conversely, Matt Ryan has struggled in the playoffs, posting an 0-3 record. In Ryan's defense, he has played the eventual Super Bowl champions the past two years, but he just seems like a different player once the regular season ends. Flacco takes this one hands down.
Winner: Joe Flacco
There are a ton of factors to consider here. One of the biggest knocks on "Joe Cool" during his time in Baltimore is his lack of visible leadership. Matt Ryan gets a nod in that category.
Both play in tough divisions, but I feel like Joe Flacco has it tougher playing the Steelers and Bengals twice a year. I also feel as though Matt Ryan has had more offensive talent around him during these four years, so that speaks to what Flacco has done with less.
Winner: Joe Flacco
Overall, Joe Flacco has done far more during his brief NFL career than Matt Ryan has. Flacco has led the Baltimore Ravens on deep playoff runs during the last four postseasons while Matt Ryan is usually making tee times and drinking tropical drinks during the postseason.
"Matty Ice" has the better regular season stats by far, but that only takes the conversation so far when you see he has the same number of playoff victories that my grandma has. Both quarterbacks have their strengths and weaknesses, and I don't think it's crazy to think both have the tools to win a Lombardi trophy one day.