On ESPN’s Monday Night Football pre game show, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco referred to himself as an “elite” quarterback in the NFL. While his success over his first three seasons has been great, I would hesitate to agree with Flacco just yet.
Flacco’s stats however do put him in the top ten among quarterbacks in the NFL. His QB rating, 94.0, is 8th in the league behind Ben Roethlisberger and ahead of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. He’s 12th in completion percentage (62.6%), 9th in yards (3,223) and tied for 7th in average per completion (7.5). While his numbers are solid, I don’t think they are quite “elite.”
Those that agree with Flacco’s statement would also point out that he’s led the Ravens to a 3-2 record in the postseason, including a win on the road against the New England Patriots and a trip to the AFC Championship in his rookie year, 2008.
Flacco’s two trips to the post season, while successful, were not his best individual performances. In the Ravens three post season games in 2008, Flacco threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions and his completion percentage never exceeded 50% in any of those games. In 2009, Joe Flacco completed just 4 passes in 10 attempts for 34 yards with an interception against the Patriots. In Indianapolis, Joe threw another two interceptions and completed 57.1% of his passes.
No matter what the sport, being “elite” requires having success in the post season, thus far we haven’t seen top tier numbers from Joe Flacco in the playoffs.
A number of fans demand more “fire” and “passion” from Flacco. This year, we have started to see that leadership quality begin to emerge, through his spat with Derrick Mason a few weeks ago, but Flacco needs to show it a little more to be a top QB in the NFL.
More than anything else previously mentioned, elite quarterbacks are leaders on the field. If their offensive coordinator calls for a short pass on a crucial 3rd and 2, they audible the call. If they go up to the line and see Troy Polamalu looking to blitz in poor pass protection, they change the play or call timeout. Flacco has yet to prove he can do these things. That doesn’t mean that he can’t, it just means that after nearly three seasons, I don’t agree with his statement that he’s elite.