Less than five years ago, Joe Flacco had the month of his life. He threw 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and averaged 9 yards per pass over a four-game run that included winning at Denver and New England and then beating San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
That got him paid, but it was not the sign of a sudden breakout for Flacco, who up until that magical run had been more game manager than franchise quarterback.
And since that payday? Well, he’s been sneakily really bad, and it’s been going on for a long time now. It’s probably good for Flacco that he hasn’t been involved in any protests or folks might see that he’s been coasting on that January 2013 run since then.
Here’s where he ranks among the 31 quarterbacks who have thrown 900 pass since the start of the 2013 season:
- Tied with Brian Hoyer for lowest TD rate;
- Tied for 2nd for most INTs, behind only Eli Manning;
- 2nd worst passer rating and adjusted net yards per attempt rank (Blake Bortles);
- 3rd worst in yards per attempt (Bortles and Derek Carr)
His backup in that Super Bowl, Tyrod Taylor, went to Buffalo and has been far more productive at a fraction of the price.
Flacco has started this year by passing for 601 yards … through 4 games. That average of 150 yards per game, and throwing 6 interceptions versus 4 touchdowns.
It’s not been just one bad season or up-and-down play. There have been 91 quarterbacks since the 1970 merger who have thrown at least 900 passes from ages 28 to 31. Only Mark Malone has been worse than Flacco. He’s in company with names like Scott Mitchell and Kent Graham. The shine of that Super Bowl ring keeps folks from recognizing it.
I did a similarity score (using style, and specifics of completion percentage, yards per attempt, TD rate, INT rate, and sack rate) for quarterbacks at age 28 to 31. Here were the 10 most similar, with the number of games started after their 32nd birthday.
Only Jon Kitna and Ryan Fitzpatrick started more than 16 games at age 32 or older, and both qualified as journeymen. Matt Cassel is the only other one to start more than 5 more games. Joe Flacco has already started four, but after this season, I’m not sure that even his ring can keep him in good graces as a starter if things don’t turn around quickly.