Wacco for Flacco?

I recently read a post online where someone asked, is Flacco, of the Baltimore Ravens, a good quarterback.  Since the question was addressed to many Baltimore fans, most of the responses were skewed in Flacco’s favor, as these were Ravens fans responding to the inquiry.  I thought this would make for a good post, since it is not the first time I have heard this question being raised.  As I live in Baltimore, and hold season tickets to the Ravens, I do consider the Ravens my surrogate team (second to the G-Men), but I feel I can put together a fair argument to this question, with little (if any) bias. 

Simply put, I believe Joe Flacco is a good quarterback, but to answer it more accurately, one must first determine the definition of a “good” quarterback.  My definition of a good quarterback is someone I want on my team, which I feel confident in winning games.  I want a quarterback that can adjust to different situations, exploit weaknesses in defenses, manage the game clock, lead his teammates, avoid turnovers or costly mistakes, and most importantly – win games! 

Joe Flacco has done all of those things, but most importantly – won games!  The Ravens, since Flacco came aboard, have made the playoffs three years in a row.  Yes, the Ravens have other factors working in their favor, like a decent defense, and other offensive weapons, but let me ask you this – if Kyle Boller was the quarterback for the Ravens today, and everything else was the same, would the Ravens be as good?  Would they even be in the playoffs?  I doubt it. 

Flacco has shown great poise on the field and doesn’t cost his team many turnovers.  He is not as dynamic as Manning or Brady, but guess what – he doesn’t have to be.  His defense keeps him in games and his offensive coordinator plays a much more conservative game (this has come back to bite them on occasion, but I don’t necessarily blame Flacco).  

I had Flacco in Fantasy Football this year and he certainly didn’t put up 34 fantasy points in any given game.  What he did do is consistently put up 12-20 pts a game.  Consistency is the key in the NFL and Flacco has been consistent. 

I won’t go much into statistics because the graph below (taken from ESPN.com) will speak for itself, but if you want to review the stats, numbers don’t lie – Flacco was seventh in the 2010 Regular Season QB Ratings and again, remember, he only has 3 years experience! 

Most of the arguments against Flacco being a good QB are around the notion that he doesn’t do anything special, or there are games where he throws to only one player, and doesn’t spread the ball around enough.  I thought the point of football was to get a ball made of pigskin 100 yards across a field without being stopped by your opponent?  If that is true, then why does it matter if the ball is spread around?  Many quarterbacks have a favorite target, some to post receivers, some to possession/slot receivers, some to tight ends.  It’s all about matchups and exploiting the defense’s weaknesses.  Some defenses cannot defend over the middle, so why not throw to your slot receiver or tight end all game.  Tom Brady destroyed the Jets this year by throwing 3 TD passes to his TE because the Jets couldn’t prevent it.  Until a defense can show they can defend against a certain area, why stop?  If Flacco can throw to Todd Heap all day and the chains are moving, should he stop and say, you know what, I need to throw over to Boldin and Mason a bit more this game…Peyton Manning’s favorite target is Dallas Clark and no one seems to be downgrading him for it.   True, a good defense will adjust, but then a good quarterback should be able to adjust too.  Flacco did adjust against Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the Jets to name a few good defenses he faced this year, spreading the ball around. 

Another person I’ve heard compared to Flacco is Trent Dilfer.  Flacco is not Trent Dilfer.  Dilfer didn’t lose games for the Ravens, but he didn’t win them either.  He was just there and able to manage the clock and get enough points on the board to allow the defense to do the rest.  In the end though, the defense won the games.  If the Ravens gave up more than 20, panic set in.  With Flacco at the helm, things are different.  Flacco makes plays happen and creates winning situations.  He drove the Ravens down the field within the final two minutes of play during Week 4 of this year’s regular season, in Pittsburgh, to win the game – not sure Dilfer would have done the same thing.  The Ravens with Dilfer in 2000 actually would have probably been better off giving Pittsburgh back the ball and hoping for an interception from the D!

Flacco is on the winning side of the formula, when it comes to winning games.  He has only been in the league a few years and he already has a better win record than many quarterbacks in their first three years.  No, he didn’t throw for 300 plus yards every game and he hasn’t shown the ability to run for over 100, but he has provern to be successful.  In fact, he is going to Pittsburgh this weekend to play the Steelers, in a division championship game (his 3rd Division Championship game in 3 years).  Where are Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Phillip Rivers, who few would argue are good quarterbacks? 

Is Flacco a good quarterback – yes, I think so.

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