It’s time to start taking Joe Flacco seriously.
There are three stories that everyone will want to tell leading up to Super Bowl XXVII. The first is about Ray Lewis’ crusade to go out the way John Elway did. Finish a champion.
The second is Colin Kaepernick, a kid who has yet play an entire season, willing his team to the Super Bowl berth that eluded the Niners last season.
The third is the Harbowl and the endless string of quips and puns we will hear ad nauseam for the next two weeks.
Ray Lewis’ career ends in two weeks, regardless of the outcome on Super Bowl Sunday. Time will tell as to whether Kaepernick is the next great San Francisco quarterback, although you can’t deny what he did against Green Bay a couple weeks ago. And the Harbowl story line, well that fun is fleeting and will border on annoying in the next 12 days.
The story is if the Ravens can sustain their consecutive playoff appearance run in the post-Lewis era. The sequel starts with Joe Flacco.
After two seasons riding pine at Pitt, Flacco made the move to the Football Championship Subdivision and became the starter at Delaware his junior year, after sitting a season due to the transfer. In 2007, he took the Fightin’ Blue Hens to the top of the mountain, only to lose the championship to the Appalachian State team that beat Michigan earlier that year.
Flacco was drafted 18th overall by the Ravens, looking to bring an answer to the quarterback shuffle of 2007 that included Steve McNair/Kyle Boller/Troy Smith and led to an 5-11 record.
In 2008, the Flacco-led Ravens immediately turned their season around reversing the record to 11-5. Flacco’s numbers were rookie-esque completing just 60% of his passes with 14 touchdowns and 12 INTs. Yet, Flacco took the Ravens to the playoffs, beating both Miami and Tennessee before falling to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game.
Compare that to rookie years of Andrew Luck (55% completions, 23 TDs and 18 INTs) or Andy Dalton in 2011 (58%, 20 TDs, 13 INTs). Luck and Dalton both took their teams to the playoffs their rookie years, and both lost their opener. But both rookie years were considered huge successes. Yet no love for Flacco.
Fact is, Flacco has been the model of consistency for the Ravens over the last five years. He has started all 92 games since 2008 and has posted a regular season record of 54-26 (.675 winning percentage) in the regular season. Baltimore has made the playoffs and won at least one game in the post-season every single year since Flacco arrived. Flacco carries an 8-4 playoff mark despite playing only two home playoff games.
Flacco keeps getting better, also. The last three seasons in the playoffs he’s thrown 15 TDs and just 2 INTs, going 5-2 since 2010. He carries a record of 3-2 against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and what he did, beating and largely out playing both this year… Pure poetry.
ESPN debatoligist Steven A. Smith may be the only one out there giving Flacco the props he deserves. Smith justified Flacco being rated higher than Romo in last summer’s NFL.com Top 100 Ranking. Where as Skip Bayless looks like an ass, as usual, saying he would take Tim Tebow over Flacco “any Sunday”.
The Smith vs. Bayless debate on Flacco has been a hot button topic, not just in that clip, but in this article from August, 2012 as well. Smith pulls a Kreskin saying:
The Joe Flacco that I saw in the AFC championship game, I’m going to sit here and predict that’s the Joe Flacco that we will see by and large for the upcoming 2012 season. The Baltimore Ravens offense, led by Flacco, will offset the absence of Terrell Suggs, which will put them right where they were last year – probably in the AFC championship.
Meanwhile Skip, ever the skeptic, for argument sake or otherwise, said this:
If Joe Flacco is the reason the Ravens are going to survive this year, according to Stephen A. Smith, on offense, then I’m going to go Edgar Allen Poe on you. I’m going to Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’ I’m saying if it’s Flacco or bust on offense, if he’s going to be the new man on offense, and I think that’s where they’re heading, I’m leaning toward not picking the Ravens to even make the playoffs.
Skip doesn’t let up even heading into this year’s AFC title game where he calls him Fluke-O again in this article, Jan. 17.
Forgive me, Ravens fans, I’m still not buying your No. 5. I still think Flacco will prove to be more Achilles’ heel than mighty warrior Achilles. As expectations rise toward Sunday’s AFC title game and Flacco hears and reads about how he finally has proved to be what he and his agent have insisted he is — ELITE! — he’ll feel pressure like never before and turn back into Fluke-o.
Even after the Ravens win over Brady & Co., Bayless can’t help himself in this gem that came out just today.
He’s the best worst quarterback I’ve ever seen.
Bayless is addicted to being wrong, for this and so many other things (that and he’s just plain annoying).
I don’t think we can underestimate the influence of fantasy football owners on the overall opinion of Joe Flacco. Laugh all you want, but fantasy owners don’t rank him high on their draft boards, and you will rarely see him in Matthew Berry’s fantasy top 10. But fantasy football is played on the grid. Football is played on the gridiron. I’ll take Flacco the man over Flacco the number any day.
Yeah, maybe Flacco is a result of the Ravens perennially stout defense. He is one of 22+ guys that have had a part in the success of Baltimore over the last five years. And maybe the Ravens fall off the map after the spiritual and emotional leader of the team in Ray Lewis leaves. However, the list of guys I would take over Flacco’s ever-improving resume dwindles every year, and if he wins this game next fortnight …
Doubt the Flacco, nevermore.