Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan were somewhat incredible last season. To come out as a rookie and play like that is a feat to be remembered, but, still, there are things that remain to be seen.
Flacco, the 18th overall pick in last year’s draft, was forced into the starting position by injuries to Kyle Boller and former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. He came in and proved he was worth the pick.
Flacco lead the Ravens to an 11-5 record in the regular season and then took them right to the AFC Championship game. He is the only rookie QB ever to win two post-season games. His numbers are great for a rookie too, as he completed 60 % of his passes, threw 14 TDs, and 12 INTs.
Moving on to Matt Ryan, it is even more impressive. Coming to fill the hole left by Michael Vick and enlarged by the likes of Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman, Ryan made Atlanta fans forget all about the aforementioned.
He took a team that had gone 4-12 in 2007 and lead them to the playoffs, talk about a comeback!
Ryan was the starter from day one, and proved he was worth the pick by posting even more remarkable numbers, completing 61% of his passes, while throwing for 3,440 yards, 16 TDs, and 11 INTs.
They are both reputedly good leaders, hard workers, and have great futures ahead of them. Or do they?
If we look back just a few years, we can notice two guys with an amazing similarity to Flacco and Ryan.
The first is Ben Roethlisberger. Picked in the first round of the 2004 draft, Big Ben took over the Steelers as a rookie and took them to the AFC Championship Game. Furthermore, since then he has won two rings. Need I say more?
The problems come when you look at the other guy with a similar rookie season—Vince Young.
Young was drafted with the third overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 draft, and in his rookie season he played impressively. Driving defensive coordinators crazy, Young almost lead the then rebuilding Titans to the playoffs. He was even chosen as the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
However, since the end of his rookie season, Young has struggled. After seriously considering quitting football, Young didn’t live up to the expectations left by his rookie season, throwing nine TDs and 17 INTs in 2007.
At the beginning of the 2008 season, following an injury to his knee, Young was involved in a controversy when his therapist reported that he was seriously considering suicide. Young’s mother even stated that her son was “hurting inside and outside.”
So for their own sake, Ravens and Falcons fans should hope their young QBs take the Big Ben road…