Is Joe Flacco Elite? This aimless question has been targeted at quarterbacks like Flacco — guys who have top-tier potential but don’t always showcase it — and beaten into a platitude by ESPN & Friends. But while the question doesn’t usually need to be asked, it does now, with Flacco needing a new contract, sporting a shiny Super Bowl ring and game MVP trophy. The Ravens need to reward him, but they also need to make sure they don’t overpay a non-elite quarterback and handcuff themselves for the future.
So, what is Joe Flacco, exactly? In his current state, Flacco is “good.” The general marker that basically means his fanbase is satisfied with his presence on the team. The marker that means Ozzie Newsome isn’t looking for anyone else, that the Ravens will live or die with Flacco. Joe Flacco — just for the time being, because as Eli Manning and Philip Rivers prove, these things can change quickly — is “good.” He no longer “sucks.” Congratulations, Baltimore.
Let’s try and put him in a tier, the classifications being how an intelligent, rational fan would answer an inquiry on his opinion of his team’s quarterback. Remember, this is based on a fan’s opinion, today. These are just tiers; the players are listed within the tiers in no particular order.
Disclaimer: Joe Flacco is good. But he had some big-time stinkers this year, so don’t freak out that he’s not in the Rodgers tier (even though he beat Brady and is certainly capable of outplaying these guys). He vastly outperformed his regular-season output, which wasn’t all that ELITE. And if you think he’s ranked too high, stop trolling, Steelers fan.
“I trust him completely. He can win a Super Bowl with a sufficient supporting cast.”
Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees
I love him, but there are a few guys who are better.
Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, JOE FLACCO, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson
SOLID AND POTENTIALLY-GREAT QUARTERBACKS
“He needs to develop, but I love him and want him forever.”
Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill
QUARTERBACKS WHO CAN BE GOOD AND WEREN’T THAT GOOD THIS YEAR/SHOULD BE BETTER IN THE FUTURE BUT NEED TO SHOW IT
“Get your s*** together, man (but I guess I’ll accept that you’re our guy).”
Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, Matt Schaub
BAD QUARTERBACKS WHO WILL STAY THAT WAY
Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Brian Hoyer
“Give me anybody else.”
Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Matt Cassel/Brady Quinn, Blaine Gabbert
“I literally wasn’t that upset that JaMarcus Russell had a brief shot at his job.”
Note: I have no idea what to do with Michael Vick, who could either disappear entirely or take over the world with Chip Kelly.
Flacco clearly isn’t in that ELITE tier. The rational fan reaction would certainly land him in that second tier. So, he probably deserves a Roethlisberger-esque contract — he’s not a sure thing, but he’s good, and the Ravens know they can win with him. Quarterback salaries are far from fair (see Rivers’ and Sanchez’s contracts, among others), but regardless, Flacco is going to get top dollar. He probably deserves something like the $11.6 million annually that Big Ben was supposed to get this year, and there’s a good chance he’ll get more due to that whole Super Bowl MVP thing. “more” to the tune of $20 million a year? sounds crazy, but we’ll find out.
I’m not a scout, but I can look up the numbers. How good was Flacco exactly, this playoffs? If you don’t account for the current, pass-happy era, Flacco’s performance is almost inarguably the greatest of all-time.
73/126 (57.9 CMP%), 1,140 YDS, 9.05 YPA, 11 TD, 0 INT, 1 FUM, 83.6 QBR, 117.2 RATING
If you do account for eras, then there is an argument for some performances, like Joe Montana’s own 11 TD, 0 INT performance a couple decades back. But either way, Flacco’s performance was legendary. He’ll be held to a higher standard now, especially once he gets this fat contract. There will be no more “Joe Flacco is underrated.”
You’re stuck with Flacco for a long time, Baltimore. For now, that’s a very good thing. But in the mercurial monster that is the NFL, don’t be surprised if your quarterback winning Super Bowl MVP is what ultimately spoils your future. ‘Til next time, stay ELITE, Baltimore.