Yesterday, Joe Flacco was ranked by Ron Jaworski of ESPN as the 9th best QB in the league. He beat out the likes of Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, and Michael Vick as he should. As with most things surrounding Flacco (especially in Baltimore) this ranking sparked a heated debate on Twitter, Facebook, and message boards. Some said he was too low and some were saying too high.
The number nine ranking for Joe Flacco is actually exactly where he should be. Since his rookie season in 2008, he has noticeably improved in different aspects of his game. After his rookie 2008 season for instance he became a better pocket passer. After the 2009 season he improved his accuracy on certain passes he had struggled with such as sideline throws, while also throwing less interceptions. Last year he noticeably improved his extending the play ability. He was constantly under pressure due to lack luster offensive line play and was able to avoid that pressure countless times. He was not able to complete many passes from this but he didn’t take as many sacks either. Look for him to improve during these situations this year by locating open receivers down field.
Not to mention he has done all this while never missing a game since he has been in the league. That is an incredible feat when it seems QB’s go down left and right.
But I digress. Flacco has been able to turn a slightly below average passing offense into an above average one. Joe doesn’t have the stats that some other QB’s have so you wouldn’t know how good he actually is unless you watched his games. And Jaworski said he wasn’t ranking them off of their stats but on their quarterbacking ability (and quite frankly I think people can get too wrapped up in stats that really have little indication of how good someone is). His arm strength is second to none. He can fit balls into very tight spaces at times as exhibited by his throw to Lee Evans in the AFC Championship game that was dropped. That was one of the best throws I have seen anyone make.
As I said earlier he has also developed the ability to extend the play and break tackles with his large frame. The one down side to his game is that he is inconsistent. He isn’t wildly inconsistent but he is just enough to take criticism for it. There are times where he makes some throws that you just have no idea what he is seeing but they are still pretty rare.
The most common argument for Flacco being higher on the list is that he wins a lot of games. While this is true, all those games weren’t won because of Flacco alone. The defense contributed a great deal if not more than Flacco did. Along with the threat of Ray Rice that opposing defenses had to focus on as well.
The problem with Flacco is that he isn’t flashy. He doesn’t make plays like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees because he isn’t that type of player. He is game manager at this point in his career. He hasn’t “taken over” many games. While Flacco has the ability and potential to be as good as anyone, he just isn’t there yet. He was always going to be a project, coming out of the FCS.
I think this year could finally be the year we see Joe reach his full potential. I sincerely hope that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron opens things up a little more for Joe and allows him to throw the ball around the field and have more control over the offense. We could finally see what Flacco is made of if he did.