Response to Joe Flacco Critics: Sing a Different Song, Already

Bleacher Report Senior Writer IFebruary 23, 2009

It's come from everybody. The experts. The amateurs. The opponents.

They all think Joe Flacco is overrated.

They claim that the reason for his success is great defense and a great backfield he has behind him.

But they are definitely wrong. Why? Has Flacco gotten help from his defense and running backs? No doubt. However, it's not to say he hasn't played well. It's ridiculous to compare him to quarterbacks like Matt Cassel or Matt Ryan, considering both their teams have speedy, playmaking receivers—something the Ravens don't have.

Derrick Mason, 5'10", is the Ravens No. 1 receiver while Mark Clayton, also 5'10", is the No. 2. I'm not going to sit here and say he didn't benefit from a defense that includes Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. And I'm not going to sit here and say he hasn't benefited from All-Pro fullback Le'Ron McClain in the backfield.

But to say Flacco hasn't played well himself? That's just beyond belief to me. Is Flacco the next Peyton Manning? Of course not! Flacco projects more like Ben Roethlisberger, getting help from a tremendous defense and not having to do as much as most quarterbacks would.

And while the critics of Flacco say he hasn't played well, they inconveniently leave out the fact that in his last 11 games of the season, he threw 13 touchdown passes, just five interceptions, was 9-2 as the starter and led the offense to 25.3 points a game during that stretch.

Did Flacco play well in every one of those games? No. He played well in every game except two. I'm not going to claim that Flacco needs to pack his bags for Canton, but saying he's overrated is borderline insane.

First of all, no one really claims Flacco is among the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League. And Flacco critics never look beyond the lines. They look at this stat: 14 TD's, 12 INT's. Decent for a rookie.

So what kind of opinion does that lead to: Flacco is an overrated quarterback, Ravens are overachievers, and the reason Baltimore wins is defense and power running. I don't blame them. They aren't bad people, they haven't looked into it enough.

Again, Flacco threw 13 touchdowns and five interceptions his last 11 games and few of those interceptions were deserved. His two interceptions against the Giants were misjudged and tipped, respectively.

While he was inaccurate against Pittsburgh in a 13-9 Week 15 loss, one of the interceptions was tipped and the second pick was plainly out of desperation. The opposing opinions have come from writers I respect. Bryn Swartz and Sayre Bedinger.

But if you're going to blame him for not doing well against the No. 1 Steelers defense, then you're crazy. You could argue defense kept the Ravens in the game all three contests against Pittsburgh, but what about the Monday night melee in Week Four? Flacco threw for 192 yards and one touchdown pass—in his first road start—against Pittsburgh!

If Flacco had a tall, speedy receiver, he could have put up great numbers. Oh wait: In the last 11 games, he did! The same argument is applied to Ben Roethlisberger. He's overrated because he gets much help from defense.

Do Big Ben and Joe Cool get help from their defenses? Yes. But do both quarterbacks play well? Absolutely. I'm just tired of hearing the same song week-after-week. Flacco puts up a good game, as does Big Ben, and they both get snubbed because they don't do it themselves.

The same argument could be used for Donovan McNabb, whose Eagles team ranked fourth in total defense. It could also be used for Peyton Manning, whose Colts finished seventh. It could be used for many. Matt Ryan, who was helped tremendously by Michael Turner, Matt Cassel, whose Patriots finished sixth in rushing offense and many others. But all of those quarterbacks are Pro Bowl caliber and in Manning and McNabb's case, Hall of Fame caliber.

NFL fans, you need to sing a different song. Am I trying to say Flacco deserves to be in the same sentence as Dan Marino? Course not. But he does deserve to be in the same sentence as most NFL quarterbacks. Heck, he's dueled with most of them. And more often than not, he's come out on top.

That brings us to the playoff excuse. Ahh, Flacco critics often point to the fact that in the postseason, Flacco got nothing done. Yes, he posted an abysmal 48.5 completion percentage. Yes, he threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions. But think about this: was Flacco ASKED to lead the Ravens to Tampa for the Super Bowl? Was Flacco EXPECTED to lead the Ravens himself?

No, but he did manage the game quite well, and let me make a list of the amount of times he fumbled. OK, I'm done. If the Ravens can get a tall, speedy, playmaking receiver in the draft, through free agency or a trade, Flacco can be a hell of a quarterback next season.

And for anyone who actually watched the playoffs, you'd know he wasn't horrible in any of the games. Against Miami, in a 27-9 win, he wasn't asked to make plays. In fact, he was asked to manage the game—and that he did. He was 9-for-23 with 132 yards. His first playoff pass: a 17-yard completion. He ran for a five-yard touchdown. And for those who watched it, you'd know most of Flacco's incomplete passes were executed reads but throws that were forced out of bounds.

In the Tennessee game, no one can deny he was impressive. Let's compare. Week Five vs. Tennessee at home, 13-10 loss: 18-for-27, 153 yards, 2 INT's. He showed tendencies of a young quarterback. Throwing across his body. Rattled against an elite Tennessee D.

In Week 19 against Tennessee in Nashville, he was 11-for-22 with 163 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Is 11-for-22 impressive? No. Was the big pass to Todd Heap a delay of game? Yes. But seriously, how did a delay of game affect the outcome of the pass? Regardless, Flacco made the pass right through the hands of Chris Hope and in between Pro Bowlers Michael Griffin and Cortland Finnegan. So keep talking.

That brings us to the ever-so-dreadful Pittsburgh game in the AFC Championship. Flacco was poor. 141 yards, three interceptions, one of which pinned on Flacco.

Let's see. First interception: DeShea Townsend. This was just an example of an elite corner stepping up and making a play. Not a poor read, not a poor throw. The second interception was definitely another example of a great player, Troy Polamalu, making a play. Polamalu jumped the route, read Flacco's eyes perfectly and picked it off for a touchdown. Not a poor read, not a poor throw. A great play by a great safety.

The next play was a ball tipped—something that hurt Flacco all year. A pass that would have been an eight yard completion to Ray Rice was bobbled and tipped—right into the hands of Steelers defensive back Tyrone Carter. See, not Flacco's fault!

I respect your opinions, sports fans, but quite frankly, sing a different song; Flacco proved you wrong.