Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick: Which Quarterback Has Edge in Super Bowl XLVII?

Joe LevittContributor IIIJanuary 30, 2013

Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick: Which Quarterback Has Edge in Super Bowl XLVII?

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    There’s a legitimate debate between the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick and the Baltimore RavensJoe Flacco over which one gives their team the edge at quarterback in Super Bowl XLVII.

    Outside of the Ravens faithful and those living in the greater Baltimore area, many would scoff at this very notion.

    Are we talking about the same Joe Flacco who produced a QBR of 0.3 in Week 7, a 0.4 eight weeks later and seven games of a 40.2 or lower?

    The same quarterback who called himself elite despite so much evidence to the contrary, including two pick-sixes this season?

    Well, as it turns out, there’s actually ample data supporting such an assertion.

    Despite the four 91-plus QBR-worthy games and 10-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in said contests, the focus will be solely on Flacco’s awesome playoff run.

    We’ll also concentrate on Kaepernick’s 2012 stat-tastic postseason campaign, leaving out his 97.5 QBR against the Bears on Monday Night Football and four-TD December performance in a 49ers win against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

    The regular season is a thing of a far-distant past. Kaepernick was a pure NFL neophyte, and Flacco's 1-3 finish in his last four starts isn’t indicative of his current status.

    The playoffs are where quarterbacks make their money and earn respect from fans, fellow players and the general viewing public.

    Here is a comparison of the postseason runs of quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick on the road to the Super Bowl.

Joe Flacco

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    Joe Flacco is enjoying his greatest playoff stretch out of five chances since entering the league in 2008.

    A less than stellar completion percentage notwithstanding, he has dominated in just about every statistical category across the board.

    He has amassed 853 yards passing, eight touchdowns and an average of 9.17 yards per pass. His zero interceptions, 77.5 QBR (out of 100) and league-leading 114.7 efficiency rating are all worth putting on the world’s proverbial refrigerator for the masses to see.

    The same goes for his playoff-high 16.7 yards per completion.

    Only a completion percentage of 54.8 and one lost fumble detract from Flacco’s three-game totals, where numbers are concerned.

    Flacco produced his best work in three different categories against the Indianapolis Colts.

    His 89.5 QBR, 125.6 efficiency rating and head-turning 12.3 yards per pass were his highest marks in three overall contests, but there is no denying that the Ray Lewis-inspired defense, combined with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, facilitated Flacco’s winning performance.

    Flacco then went toe-to-toe with the AFC’s top-two rated quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, emerging victorious both times. Despite his team being nine-plus-point underdogs in each game, Flacco outplayed the future Hall of Famers—on the road.

    He threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns against the Manning-led Broncos, and the third TD installment was easily the biggest one of his career.

    Flacco launched a 70-yard downfield bomb to Jacoby Jones, beating the defense over top and tying the game at 35-all (with the extra point) to send it into overtime.

    Denver experienced a bit of a defensive breakdown, but Flacco still had to make the throw. It was a perfect pass in a pressure-packed situation against the NFL’s No. 3-ranked passing defense.

    Against the usually immaculate Brady in the AFC Championship Game, Baltimore’s 6'6" gunslinger outgunned yet another QB in the greatest-of-all-time category.

    Flacco generated three TD passes in three straight drives, as the Ravens outscored New England 21-0 in the second half. 

    His productive play deep inside the red zone made a usually difficult scenario look much too easy. It was the stuff of polished veteran leadership.

    The talk of elite quarterbacking by Flacco doesn’t seem all too ridiculous in the context of these last two playoff games.

Colin Kaepernick

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    Although lacking his counterpart’s five-year playoff resume, Colin Kaepernick has capitalized to an incredible extent in his first postseason gridiron action.

    The 49ers’ field general has epitomized the essence of a dual-threat quarterback—and not one who relies solely on his physical capabilities. He gains the upper hand on the opposition with his arm, legs and brain.

    In Game 1 against the Packers, Kaepernick matched Flacco’s opening two-touchdown total, as well as his 54.8 completion percentage through three games. His 263 yards passing didn't impress, but his 94.7 QBR most certainly did.

    He overcame a pick-six and 1-of-5 on the 49ers’ first two offensive drives, then produced a near-perfect quarterback metric from there on out.

    He showcased resiliency and experience beyond his years by erasing two 49ers deficits and generating two 49ers leads in his first ever playoff contest.

    On top of mature poise and big-armed, big-play ability with numerous completions of 20- and 40-plus yards, Kaepernick torched Green Bay with his legs.

    The second-year pro established an NFL record for yards rushing by a quarterback with 181. He added a cringe-worthy 11.3 per carry and TDs of 20 and 56 yards.

    But that’s just a read-option gimmick that beat an unprepared Packers team without the requisite speed on the outside, right?

    In the NFC Championship Game one week later, Kaepernick only accrued 21 yards rushing.

    No. 7 one-upped himself in the efficiency and downfield passing departments with a 76.2 completion percentage and 11.10 yards per attempt. His 127.7 efficiency rating also was an improvement.

    Most notably, however, he once again pushed through some early adversity with his multifaceted dynamism, maintaining composure in the face of 17-0 and 24-14 deficits.

    Kaepernick utilized his best offensive weapon in tight end Vernon Davis and diagnosed the Falcons front seven correctly by allowing them to crash toward him. He then handed off to his backs, which resulted in three San Francisco TDs, including the game-winner by Gore in the fourth quarter.

    Like Flacco’s performance in his initial playoff game, though, Kaepernick does not deserve all the credit. The 49ers ball-carriers, offensive line and shutdown defense were pivotal contributors toward that win.

Quarterback Edge

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    We extend all due respect to Joe Flacco and his three-win, eight-touchdown, zero-interception and world-beater efforts in the 2012 postseason.

    He’s playing the best football of his career, doing so with an impressive deep ball, unshakeable demeanor and turnover-free production.

    That said, Colin Kaepernick gets the nod in this debate.

    Let’s phrase it this way:

    • Flacco’s big arm produced a 9.17-yard average; Kap leads with a mark of 9.54
    • Flacco’s play earned him a top-three 77.5 QBR; Kap ranks No. 1 with 94.1
    • Flacco can evade the pass-rush with his 6'6", 245-pound frame; Kap can do the same at 6'4", 230 pounds, and take it to the house at will
    • Flacco coughed up just one turnover; so did Kaepernick
    • Flacco can beat you from the pocket; so can Kaepernick, and outside of it as well
    • Flacco has proved unflappable in big games this season; so has Kaepernick

    Point being, Kaepernick is the absolute complete package.

    He possesses a multidimensional skill set, is productive inside—and outside—the pocket, and demonstrates a gridiron poise and football IQ that scoffs at any notion of inexperience.

    Opposing defensive coordinators loathe game-planning against such quarterbacks. One can implement, and execute, the right play calls, but Kaepernick’s dynamic abilities can create breakdowns in said plays.

    He is simply the guy you can’t always defend against.

    As such, he’ll provide that one run, that one pass or that one read option that will prove the game-winner for San Francisco.

    Flacco is a fine quarterback whom many teams would love as their leader in the Super Bowl.

    But more would choose Kaepernick—including me, former NFL pro Marcellus Wiley and Super Bowl-winning head coach Brian Billick, to name a few.

     

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