I often find myself having to defend Joe Flacco’s play.
Which wouldn’t be surprising if say, I was having these arguments with a bitter, jealous Redskins fan or a misguided Falcons fan who still thinks Matt Ryan is the best QB taken in the first round in 2008.
Of course, if it was a bandwagon-riding towel-twirling Steelers fan that was hating on Joe, it would make perfect sense. The Pittsburgh-Baltimore rivalry makes us blind to the thought that the other team could even possibly have a decent player or two.
(TROY POLAMALU AND BEN RAPEYBERGER SUCK!!!!!!!!!!)
See what I mean?
But no, unfortunately – and mind-bogglingly – it’s usually my fellow Ravens fans with whom I’m having to somehow defend Flacco. Yes, the same Ravens fans who – save for one year of Steve McNair – have never, EVER, had a decent quarterback to call their own before Flacco. Joe Flacco is far and away the absolute best QB to ever wear the purple and black for more than a single season.
Flacco has done everything – and more, if we’re being completely honest – that you could possibly expect from a quarterback through his first three seasons in the NFL.
- He has the wins. Both in the regular season (32-16) and in the playoffs (4-3, all on the road).
- He has the numbers. His completion percentage, touchdown rate, interception rate, and passer rating have increased every year so far. From Week 3 on in 2010, his passer rating trailed only that of Tom Brady.
And yet, some Ravens fans are still not satisfied. I have no idea what these people want.
Wait, scratch that, I do. They want Joe to actually BE Tom Brady. Or Peyton Manning. Or now, Aaron Rodgers.
Anything short of that, and he might as well be Kyle Boller.
The calls on the local sports talk radio stations (some – ahem – are worse than others) to replace Flacco with his backup du jour – whether it happens to be Troy Smith (2009), Marc Bulger (2010), or now, after he made a play or two against the Chiefs’ third-string defense in a freaking preseason game – rookie sixth round draft pick Tyrod Taylor, are as consistent as they are maddening.
And so, I’m always on the lookout for more ammo in defense of Joe that I can throw in the face of these moronic, unthinking, football-know-nothings. The people that don’t care that it’s not just us sane locals, but every single national writer or broadcaster that comments on the NFL, who can’t believe the kind of bashing Flacco receives in his own town.
This time, the shells I’m loading in my Flacco-haters-are-idiots shotgun come from none other than Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders. Schatz and FO are basically the end-all be-all as far as advanced statistical analysis of the gridiron goes. They’ve been on the cutting edge since 2003, coming up with advanced metrics such as Defense-Adjusted Value over Average (DVOA). For those of you without advanced degrees, just know that FO are basically the “Moneyball” guys of football – they know what they’re talking about.
I purchased FO’s 2011 Almanac, a publication they put out every season. I don’t want to give out too much here for free, as the Almanac goes for about $21.95 on the FO website, and I can certainly respect the efforts of gentlemen who have figured out a way to scratch out a living talking about football on the internet. I will, gladly, however, point out this nice little gem from the Baltimore Ravens preview chapter:
By our similarity scores, the most similar quarterback to Joe Flacco over the years 2008-10 is Tom Brady between 2001 and 2003 – right before he blossomed from a winning quarterback whose stats didn’t quite match his reputation, to a winning quarterback whose stats even surpassed his reputation. The list of similar quarterbacks also includes Brett Favre 1992-94 and Jim Kelly 1986-88.
Brady, Kelly, and Favre.
THOSE are the three guys who advanced statistical analysis argue compare with Joe Flacco over each of their first three seasons.
Between the three of them, 10 Super Bowl appearances, four Super Bowl wins, two Super Bowl MVPs, and five NFL MVPs. Some pretty nice company.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Flacco-bashers.
Will Joe ever enjoy nearly the type of top-of-the-league success those guys did? Well that remains to be seen. But after three years, to be spoken of in the same breath as Brady, Favre, and Kelly? One would think that should be just about enough to make these silly fans who are unsatisfied with Joe at least stop and think twice.
Though they probably won’t.
Look, Joe isn’t infallible. Along with his strengths, Schatz sees the same things that the level-headed among us see:
There’s a lot of worry in Baltimore about whether QB Joe Flacco is ready to “take the next step,” but the signs are certainly strong. Yes, Flacco needs to throw the ball away and take fewer sacks…
Yes. Even the most “Wacko for Flacco” among us remember watching games time and again last year and urging…BEGGING…Joe to get rid of the ball as he stood in the pocket for far too long waiting for the inevitable sack. He needs to get better at some things. If his first three seasons are any indication, he will do just that in year 4 – get better.
The Ravens are, without a doubt, a flawed team – the offensive line and wide receiver spots (though less so after the addition of Lee Evans) to name two, leave something to be desired – but Joe Flacco is the LEAST of our problems.
Of course, I have no doubt that dipshits like this guy will continue to spew their nonsense about #5.
The rest of us will just be forced to, unfortunately, turn the station when these idiots clog the airwaves calling for Tyrod Taylor to take Joe’s spot.
And to, naturally, point to the stats and the win column, which tell the real story.