Many people, myself included, scoffed at Joe Flacco when he suggested he was not only a top-five quarterback in the NFL, but the best overall. Well, he definitely isn’t the best, and he still isn’t in my top five, but it is about time he gets the recognition he deserves.
Since entering the league in 2008, Joe Flacco has not just made the playoffs every season, but he has won at least one playoff game in each of those five seasons. There is only one other quarterback in the history of the league to even start a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, let alone win one each year.
Flacco has an 8-4 postseason record and those eights wins are the most in the NFL over the span of his five-year career. With the win on Sunday, Flacco has now won six career road playoff games — the most in league history. That is amazing considering he isn’t even halfway through his career. Keep in mind, if not for a Lee Evans’ drop in last year’s AFC Championship Game this would be back-to-back Super Bowl trips for the Ravens and the dynasty talk would commence.
This postseason, all Flacco has done is beat the second-coming of John Elway in Andrew Luck, then beat walk-in Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks. In doing so, Flacco became just the second quarterback ever to beat both Manning and Brady in the same postseason and he did it in spectacular fashion.
Against Manning, he overcame two back-breaking special teams touchdowns and threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Then this weekend against Brady, he goes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Keep in mind the context here — he outplayed two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the position, and he did it back-to-back weeks. And he did it on their home fields.
All in all, Flacco is 3-0 this postseason with 284.3 yards per game, eight touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 114.7. He is doing this sans a superstar wide receiver or tight end to displace coverage or make big plays after the catch.
Yes, Anquan Boldin was once considered amongst the league’s best players, but he is at the back end of his career and rarely creates separation with his marginal speed and route running. What he does do well is attack the football in the air and uses his strong hands to bring in tough catches, but that still requires a nearly perfectly placed lob ball from Joe Flacco.
On the other side, Torrey Smith is in just his second year in the NFL and has shown some flashes but remains inconsistent on a weekly basis. On the other hand, Flacco’s most consistent target in Dennis Pitta, who is far from the prestige of Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis and the like.
To make things more impressive, Sunday was just the sixth game Flacco has played under new play-caller Jim Caldwell. Sure, the offense isn’t all that dissimilar to the one implemented by Cam Cameron, but you can’t overstate the importance of the relationship between a quarterback as his coordinator. For them to have this type of chemistry just six games into it is extraordinary.
So while Joe Flacco may not be the first quarterback you mention when listing the best players in the league, he shouldn’t be far behind. His list of accomplishments is evidence enough and a Super Bowl win will just add to his already impressive resume.