Joe Flacco Cannot Be Considered Elite Until He Can Play Consistently on the Road

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIOctober 22, 2012

HOUSTON, TX- OCTOBER 21: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens comes to the sidelines after throwing an interception to Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans for a touchdown on October 21, 2012 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Just a few months ago, I would have considered myself a loyal member of the Joe Flacco fan club.

Did I ever believe Flacco was the best quarterback in the league? No.

I did, however, defend him as an "elite" QB every chance I was given.

Now almost half way through the regular season, I am beginning to ask myself if Flacco really is one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL.

There's no doubt that he's an incredibly talented player. He's got a cannon for an arm and has the potential to be the best of the best.

Being elite, however, is not simply based on raw talent.

One has to be able to manage an offense, know his surroundings and perform at an extremely high level on a consistent basis to join the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as a top-tier QB.

Unfortunately for Flacco, he's just not there yet.

His inability to play well on the road is going to keep him out of most "elite" lists, and he still has plenty of work to do when it comes to being aware of the situation he's in.

He is still far too vulnerable in the pocket when it comes to his weak side and is sacked far too much.

His decision to air balls out when throwing them away under pressure instead of throwing out of bounds will also catch up to him eventually.

Compare him to all the other quarterbacks in terms of numbers all you want, but the fact is that right now Flacco simply cannot be placed in the same category as Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.

Once he fixes those awareness problems (which will undoubtedly come as he continues to mature) and his horrendous road splits (he's got a completion rate of 50 percent, averaging a paltry 188.7 yards per game and has thrown just two touchdowns to four interceptions through three games away from M&T Bank Stadium), we can once again return to debating his status as one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.

It's not to say he won't get there, but he certainly isn't there just yet.