Small as it is, I’m shocked that there’s a movement amongst Ravens fans to bench Joe Flacco. Seriously…do you people really want Marc Bulger as the starting quarterback moving forward? For those that are in the becnh Flacco camp, you’re entitled to your opinions. However I also see this as part of what’s turned into the mentality of today’s sports fans. Win now is a fine attitude to have, but I don’t think it’s worth winning now unless you still have a plan in place for the future. In the Ravens’ case, they drafted Joe Flacco and started him on opening day. He’s since taken the team to the playoffs twice; that’s a pretty good start for an NFL quarterback, especially one that didn’t play at a big-time college. So people are willing to forget about those first two seasons after two suspect performances (one of which was a win)? What is this…Philadelphia?!
For those that want Flacco on the bench, you’re not alone. Sports all across America are now having to deal with fickler fans than what they were used to for years. In my opinion, satellite television has as much to do with this as anything else. With the advent of NFL Sunday Ticket, a Baltimore fan can now watch the Patriots or Packers every Sunday. Then they tune in to watch the Ravens, and they wonder why their team can’t do that. A Baltimore fan can now buy the MLB Extra Innings package and see the Yankees or Red Sox each night, and wonder why the Orioles can’t look like that. As a result, most fans (myself not included) don’t want to hear about how in two or three years their team is going to be really good. They can follow a really good team at home with their satellite dish. They want to win this year. I threw in a jab above about Philadelphia, but it’s really true. A good friend of mine is an Eagle fan, and in his opinion a coach should be fired after a loss. How many times did those fans want Donovan McNabb benched when he was their quarterback? However as much as it pains me to say it, those Philadelphia fans were probably ahead of their time in being so fickle all these years. Now the rest of the country is starting to follow suit.
All of the great teams and coaches were patient to a degree with their players. Brett Favre has thrown more interceptions than any other NFL quarterback in history; was he ever benched? I’m not saying that Flacco will or will not be on the level of Brett Favre one day, but Flacco’s also a guy that’s had almost immediate success in the NFL. That doesn’t mean he’s immune to mistakes. So whenever I see an athlete that wins right away (not to name names Stephen Strasbourg), I’m a little wary. We really see what a guy’s made of when he goes through adversity. I don’t think for one minute that John Harbaugh is even remotely listening to the bench Flacco crowd, however the fact is that there are people that feel that way. The only reason I would say to bench Flacco (aside from injury of course) would be if the guy behind him put the team in a better position to win (and didn’t mortgage the future). To use the Philly example again, in my opinion Andy Reid’s mortgaged that team’s future by switching quarterbacks. (Whether or not it was truly his decision is another story.) There’s no doubt that Michael Vick is a better QB than Kevin Kolb, and odds are they’ll win more games…this year. But what happens at the end of the season if Vick signs with another team? What happens in three years when you don’t have a quarterback? These are all things that most people don’t think of when they call for quarterback changes.
There’s a time and a place for everything, including quarterback changes. However Flacco’s a young QB, and he’s going to make mistakes. There’s a reason why Marc Bulger could only catch on someplace (with the Ravens in this case) as a backup quarterback. There’s also a reason that Flacco’s a starting QB, because the coaching staff feels that he’s able to play consistently at this level. Consistently means just that…consistently. Will mistakes be made? Sure, without a doubt. But that doesn’t mean that you kick the dude to the curb when they are.