Linebackers in the AFC North have declared open season on Joe Flacco recently. First, it was Lamarr Woodley saying Joe Flacco wouldn’t reach a Super Bowl during his lifetime. Then, it was Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones saying that Flacco was a “[c]apable quarterback [but] if you put a lot of pressure on him, he makes bad decisions.”
This has caused the Baltimore Ravens’ team website to release 5 talking point tips to Flacco supporters in your constant battle against Flacco bashers at the office water cooler.
As a service to you, the Flacco basher, I present the 5 talking points to the talking points for your rebuttal. It’s not that I dislike Joe Flacco. I think he’s an average quarterback who has been in a very good situation, and who is still relatively early in his career. Dhani Jones’ comments are pretty spot on, though.
1) What’s football’s most important stat? As Charlie Sheen would concur, it’s winning.
First, minus points for the Sheen reference. Second, and I’ve repeatedly stated this, but this is a team game, and the quarterback often gets too much credit for wins. The Baltimore blogger acknowledges this, and points out one case where Baltimore won against Cleveland despite the defense allowing Peyton Hillis to run for 144 yards last year. See? Flacco carries this team. If your lead talking point is quarterback wins, sorry.
2) Flacco’s stats measure up with the best
If you cherry pick, sure. The author points out how much better he was than the first three years of Peyton Manning, and also compares him to Brady, and Drew Brees in raw totals (Brees was benched for a period and was drafted by a 1-15 team). It also depends on what “stats” we are talking about. The avoidance of interception is highly volatile and as much a function of team situation as anything. Quarterbacks who play for winning teams that play with the lead with good defenses throw fewer interceptions. Causation runs both ways, but probably moreso in the direction of team success causing reduced risk taking.
Then, there is the sack rate, which is an area where Joe Flacco has been sub-par the last three years. I talked about his propensity to hold the ball and take sacks earlier this year, and if you look at that stat, you see he does not measure up to the best. I looked at comparable seasons based on the underlying component stats. Don Majkowski in 1989 was #1. He also reminds me of Ken O’Brien, another small school first round pick who had a tendency to hold the ball, but put up good numbers in other categories. He didn’t develop and improve through his late 20’s either.
3) A few plays don’t paint Steelers picture
I’m not going to get into this one, because I would agree that you can’t judge someone after a few plays. I just want to point out this quote, which I would agree with, but runs completely counter to every other thing said both before and after: “Also, the argument that Flacco hasn’t beaten Roethlisberger is irrelevant. It’s the Ravens who haven’t beaten Big Ben since 2006, not Flacco.” Ah, so Flacco wins, but it’s the Ravens who lose to Pittsburgh as a team. Got it.
4) Even greats take time to get over playoff hump
Some greats take time to get over the playoff hump. Some don’t take time at all. Also, some average quarterbacks take time to get over the playoff hump but unnecessarily get credit, others get credit right away, and then later prove to be average. Not sure how this proves or disproves anything. 99% of all quarterbacks have not won a Super Bowl by age 25, and the vast majority never will.
5) Flacco is still growing
Maybe, maybe not. We assume that all quarterbacks continue to develop through their mid-20’s into their late-20’s, but that is not what always happens. The propensity to take sacks is the concern here, particularly the fact that his sack rate actually regressed in 2010. David Carr didn’t progress after age 25, neither did Tim Couch. Same with Rick Mirer. These are all guys who are thought of at busts now, but if you went back in time, you would find many who would argue they were going to continue to develop. They all had in common that they took sacks at a high rate, even if they showed promise in other areas earlier. Others, like Bert Jones, Neil Lomax and Ken O’Brien, also were high sack guys who peaked early, and tended to suffer injuries because they took too many hits.
Flacco may still grow, but the criticisms are valid, and he will only develop if he learns to get rid of the ball quicker.
[photo via Getty]