Joe Flacco's Overrated Arm Doesn't Make Him Elite NFL QB
Just because your team won a bunch of games and you've made it past the first round of the playoffs a couple of times doesn't mean you're an elite NFL quarterback.
It could possibly mean that, but it also could mean a variety of other things. It could mean that your defense is one of the best in the league every year. It could mean you have a good supporting cast. It could also mean that you play in the same division as the Browns and the Bengals, which, for the last several years, has provided quite a bit of win-padding on the schedule.
Some say that to be considered elite, you just need to get your team enough wins to get to the playoffs consistently. That's something Joe Flacco has been able to do in each year he's been in the league, which is certainly impressive. But he still hasn't won the game that matters the most because he's never had an opportunity to get there; in fact, he's never been able to get past the conference championship.
Both of those guys have been to the big game a few times. Both of them have even won it a couple of times. So has Eli Manning.
Flacco hasn't even been there.
It's true that there's a way to establish yourself as an elite quarterback without winning a Super Bowl, but Flacco—at 27—certainly hasn't done it yet. Can he get there? Sure, eventually. But he's not there now.
I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top-five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question. But that doesn't mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that's the way it is, that's the way I feel it is, and that's the way I feel it should be.
The wee Manning, too, made a similar claim about a year ago. But Manning has been able to back it up with a couple of rings. It's hard to fault him for running his mouth; he's officially earned the right to do so.
What does Flacco have to show for his claims, other than a 44-20 regular-season record that he can hardly take full credit for, since it's been critically bolstered by a defense that consistently ranks among the best in the NFL?
It's impossible to look at his stats, particularly from this season, and say that Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback.
Let's look at the last five weeks of the 2011 season. Against the Colts in Week 14 (a challenging opponent, no doubt), he posted a 74.2 completion percentage, throwing for 227 yards and two TDs. Good enough.
Is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback?
But the week prior, against the Browns, his completion percentage was 43.5. His quarterback rating was 66.9. He threw zero touchdowns. After the Colts game came another decent week—two touchdowns and 226 yards, nevertheless in a loss versus the Chargers. But then again, in Week 16 against the Browns, he posted a 45.8 completion percentage with just 132 yards and a 73.6 QB rating.
It's a small sample size, but the point is implicit: For the majority of his career, he's been too inconsistent to be considered elite.
Elite quarterbacks amp it up at the end of the season as the playoffs grow closer; Flacco's late-season numbers were all over the place, and he threw four picks in the last four games.
It's also worth nothing that Flacco—Mr. Top Five—didn't finish among the top five in passer rating in 2011. Among those guys—Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Romo, Stafford—are the true elites.
Could you say that he's in the midst of a slump? Possibly.
But it's impossible to tell whether Flacco is truly an elite quarterback until after he successfully emerges from that slump. I'd like to see how many wins Flacco could post on a team like the Browns, the Raiders or the Dolphins.
When he does, we'll know he's elite. Or maybe when he takes down one of the true elites when it matters most—in the playoffs—we'll really know.
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