Super Bowl 2013: Joe Flacco Ready to Become Truly Elite

Max MeyerCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2013

John Harbaugh must be thankful that Joe Flacco is his quarterback.
John Harbaugh must be thankful that Joe Flacco is his quarterback.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Joe Flacco is a polarizing quarterback. He beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field against Ben Roethlisberger, but lost to them two weeks later with Charlie Batch playing QB. According to ESPN’s QBR, Flacco had the two worst games of the season by any quarterback.

Yet, this is a guy who continues to thrive in the postseason. He’s won a playoff game in every single season of his career. He now holds the record for most playoff wins on the road. He did the unthinkable by outplaying Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back weeks.

But, is the NFL community ready to call Flacco an elite quarterback?

Now, I define an elite quarterback as a guy who consistently wins games for his team. In his five NFL seasons, Flacco is 54-26, which almost averages out to 11 wins and five losses per season.

His statistics are solid as well. He’s had at least 3,600 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes in four straight seasons. He’s never thrown more than 12 interceptions. His durability speaks for itself, he’s played in every single game over the past five seasons.

Despite being shaky at times during the regular season, Flacco always seems to find a way to play very well at the right time. Normally, pundits would look at the Baltimore Ravens defense as to why the team was successful. However, Flacco certainly carried the load this year.

The Ravens lost Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb and Bernard Pollard to injuries at various points of the season. They even made a surprising switch at offensive coordinator, promoting Jim Caldwell late into the season. 

Yet, Flacco has shined, and is now getting critics to realize that they have been underrating him all along. Flacco is making big-time throws when his team needs him most. His powerful arm is tearing apart opposing secondaries.

Looking at Flacco’s numbers this postseason, it’s hard to argue that he’s only an average quarterback. He’s thrown for eight touchdowns without an interception. He’s averaging over nine yards per passing attempt. He’s averaging over 280 passing yards per game.

He’s certainly looked better than his counterparts. Andrew Luck, Manning and Brady have combined for four touchdown passes and five interceptions. Quarterback play is the big reason why the Ravens have won those three games.

Now, if Flacco can beat Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl, he will cement his legacy and elite title. Sure, the staggering number of playoff wins helps, but Flacco will ultimately need the ring.

This will certainly be the toughest test Flacco has had yet in facing a menacing San Francisco 49ers defense. However, Flacco has proven time after time that he will rise to the occasion. And that he’s no “Average Joe.”

Before the playoffs began, there were several questions within the Ravens organization whether or not Joe Flacco was their guy. After another remarkable string of playoff games, there is no way Flacco will be in a different jersey next season.

There’s also no chance that the NFL will be able to overlook Joe Flacco again as an elite NFL quarterback.