COMMENTARY | Even the Baltimore Ravens' official team page was stunned when they saw Drew Brees ranked sixth on Ron Jaworski's QB Rankings. With Flacco still not ranked, he is clearly in the top-five of Jaworski's list, ahead of Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Though this is an extreme example, Jaworski's rankings are further proof that Flacco is becoming overrated by pundits and fans alike.
Nearly every football pundit has weighed in on the question, "Is Joe Flacco elite?" Shockingly, the consensus answer is a resounding yes. They cite his Super Bowl title, his record-breaking playoff run and his excellent regular season record among the many reasons Flacco is a top-tier quarterback.
What most pundits fail to mention, though, is Flacco's actual passing ability, which is far from elite. Good? Sure. Occasionally excellent? At times, yes. Elite? Far from it.
Stats only tell part of the tale in any discussion, but a look at Flacco's immediately raises some red flags. The last year Flacco completed over 60 percent of his passes was 2010. His career yards per attempt is just a hair over 7.0. He's fumbled 34 times in just five seasons. Those are not elite numbers no matter how you spin them.
Admittedly, the Ravens' scheme and personnel has been a limiting factor for Flacco. Only the past two years, with Torrey Smith on the roster, has Flacco had a legitimate deep threat to open up the field for the Ravens' other targets. And Flacco's offensive line has been mediocre at best the past couple of seasons. Cam Cameron also is a reason that Flacco's stats have never been sterling: Cameron favors a low-efficiency, high-reward deep passing attack that directly affected Flacco's statistical success.
There is reason to believe that with Jim Caldwell calling plays and a deep group of weapons, Flacco can finally find the statistical success that has eluded him. But should an elite quarterback have to make excuses? Tom Brady and Drew Brees don't get the luxury of excuses, and that's because they don't need them. They go out and control the offense in a way nobody knew Flacco could until last season's playoffs.
What separates guys like Brady and Brees from the rest of the NFL is the way they carry an offense week in and week out. Each of the top-tier quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Brady and Brees, are the constant in their offenses. They make their teammates better, turning unknown receivers like Wes Welker and Marques Colston into stars.
The elite quarterbacks just don't have the crippling consistency issues that have plagued Flacco throughout his career. For a statistical example, Drew Brees had just one game in 2012 where he averaged less than six yards per attempt. Flacco had five such games. The consistency just isn't there for Flacco to be considered elite.
Even popping in game film, Flacco just doesn't look elite. He misses throws he should make, especially shorter throws that every NFL quarterback should be able to handle. Sometimes, Flacco looks out of sync with receivers he's played with for years. When pressured, Flacco's mechanics often break down, resulting in inaccurate throws. These are not the hallmarks of an elite quarterback.
Flacco is a very good, maybe even a great quarterback. His winning percentage, Super Bowl title and overall leadership are noteworthy accomplishments and proof that he is a franchise quarterback. But to be mentioned above guys like Roethlisberger and Brees, guys who carry their offenses and teams in a way Flacco never has, is just wrong.
It's even enough to give Flacco the dreaded label of overrated.
Shawn Brubaker is a graduate of the Catholic University of America. He has been a Baltimore Ravens featured columnist for Bleacher Report for two years and is currently a co-host of Ravens Central Radio.
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