Baltimore Ravens: Is Joe Flacco Really Elite?


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) has never passed for more than 4,000 yards in his career. This point is often brought up in the question of his elite status. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens continue their OTAs today, and as every offseason, controversy has arisen whether Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback or not. Head coach John Harbaugh has been very straightforward about his feelings toward the topic each season.

During the first press conference of OTAs, the reporters almost went the entire time without asking the question, but at the very end, out it came. Though Harbaugh has addressed the question many times, he has not changed in his opinion of his quarterback.

"“You want to look back and say, ‘This has been the most talented offense in the National Football League for the last seven years, and they’ve carried Joe Flacco?’ You can say that if you want, but it’s ridiculous. Joe Flacco is a great player. He’s only going to get better. I think he’s hitting his stride, hitting the peak of his career, and I wouldn’t want any other quarterback in the National Football League – period. End of story.”"

No offense to the Ravens’ head coach, but he’s expected to say that. No controversy surrounds his and Flacco’s relationship, no public tension, so he’s supposed to say good things about the University of Delaware quarterback.

Is he an elite quarterback? He consistently leads his team to successful seasons with a 72-40 career regular season record. He did not have a winning record in only one season where he finished at 8-8.

Flacco has only missed the playoffs once in his career and has a win in each playoff appearance. He has a 10-5 record in the playoffs with a championship in 2012; in which, he dominated all other passers.

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He’s thrown for no more than 12 interceptions with exception for one season. With exception to his rookie year, he has always surpassed the 3,000 mark in passing yards. He has led 14 fourth-quarter comebacks and 21 game-winning drives.

The season that truly puts Flacco into the elite category is the 2012 playoff season. He threw for 1140 yards with an 11-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The championship run included a fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive.

The term is “elite quarterback,” not elite player, so I would have to say he is not one. He is a good quarterback who has shown himself to be elite at some points in his career, but take away his team and he sucks.

The 2013 season is a perfect example. Due to various reasons, one aspect was not present during that season. The Ravens finished the season ranked 30th in total rushing yards.

With the injury to Ray Rice, it was evident for most of the season Flacco would have to push the team forward himself. He passed more than 600 times, which led to 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

When he had to put the team on his back with no visible run game, he struggled. He struggled so much he missed the playoffs for the first time in his career. You could say it was the Super Bowl Hangover, but I beg to differ.

In 2012, the Ravens rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a team, which ranked 11th in the NFL. In the playoffs, they were the second best team in regards to rushing yards.

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Flacco will never be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning who can lead a team to championships on his arm alone. He is not an elite quarterback in that sense, but I see him as a team quarterback. He works with his team to create success and consistency.

He may not pass for more than 4,000 yards or lead the league in touchdowns, but he leads his team to consistent success. He is also able to maintain consistency without the same coordinator as he’s done over the past four seasons.

With Justin Forsett leading the run game, Flacco is set to have another good season. He may even be able to surpass the 4,000-yard mark.

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