Leadership: What defines a leader? It would seem that based on our typical standards of leadership, almost anyone would seem better suited for the role than the unassuming Flacco. With that said, I doubt that there are many outside of Atlanta that would recognize Ryan’s voice either. It seems that neither QB fits the description of rah-rah vocal leadership. At the end of the day, it’s about setting the example, and few of us will ever be privy to the information that validates whether either of these guys is capable of commanding an NFL locker room. Both seem to have their huddles well under control, and both also seem to enjoy the support of their teammates across the board. Still, as the Ravens have moved toward becoming a more prolific offensive machine, the willingness of Flacco’s teammates to step up and voice concerns about their roles in the offense seems to trump that which you hear from those in the Falcons locker room.
Pocket Presence: Watching the tape, it seems that Ryan enjoys a significant advantage in terms of footwork. He glides through his drop back, seems to make a lot of his reads pre-snap or while dropping back, sets his feet and releases on time. Although I, like most, was tired of hearing it repeated over and over throughout Thursday night’s broadcast, Ryan’s footwork is impressive to see. Flacco on the other hand seems much more deliberate in his drop back. Additionally, he doesn’t seem (from my naive eye) to make a lot of decisions before getting to the end of his drop. Once there, Flacco seems to square up with his feet and shoulders through each of his progressions, as if to throw. It seems to be costing him precious time in the pocket.
Flacco, to his credit, seems to sell his fakes much better. This may also lend itself back to the command of the offense argument, as Flacco seems to be better at this since he’s asked to do it more often. He hides the ball well with his large hands, and often carries out his fakes with the ball, a lost art in today’s NFL. Ryan on the other hand (again from my naive eye) seems to show the back of his helmet to the defense on every hand-off, but never on the fakes.
Both are adept at breaking the pocket, and both do a good job of keeping their eyes downfield while trying to extend the play. Both throw with strength and accuracy on the roll out, which can be a significant weapon by design, especially to their throwing hand. Flacco seems to have a bit more strength and accuracy when throwing while rolling left, although his motion seems much more awkward.
Measurables: Flacco is clearly taller, and seems to enjoy a lot more arm strength as well. These are not weapons necessary to be a great quarterback, but can certainly be used to one’s advantage. While the Brees’, Bradys and Mannings of the world aren’t necessarily synonymous with these assets, they are assets nonetheless and can only serve to benefit the possessor if his other requisite quarterbacking credentials are in place. Additionally, while things like leadership, football acumen, supporting cast, and any number of other factors are subject to change over the course of these two quarterbacks careers, Flacco will always be taller than Ryan and will likely always throw harder.
Summation: As a Ravens fan, I’ll take Flacco. Right guy, right price. At 55% the financial cost of Ryan per season, again, if the rest is even arguable, it’s a no brainer, especially if and when the salary cap comes back. I might also argue that the fact that their stats are so eerily similar despite what’s perceived to be the Ravens approach of handcuffing Flacco, speaks to his credit as well. Throw in the 3 playoff wins in 5 games to Ryan’s 0-1 playoff record, and Flacco, Rice, Zibikowski, Gooden, M.Smith, Washington and Webb seems like the right choice over Ryan and a 6th rounder.
Advantage Overall: Flacco
Do I expect that most outside of Baltimore would share this opinion? Doubtful. Do I expect that the Falcons or their fans would pine for Flacco (even if he came with the bounty of other players acquired in those drafts) given the success they’ve seen under Ryan? Certainly not. At the end of the day, it seems that both teams got their guys. It almost seems a shame that they’ll only meet on the field once every 4 years. Unless… PREVIOUS PAGE
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