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Why it’s Okay for Flacco to be an “Above Average Joe”

He’s an Above Average Joe

With Ray Rice’s long term extension finally out the way all contract attention will now turn to Joe Flacco.

He still has one season left on his current deal and it seems as if the Ravens will probably wait until next off-season to figure out the particulars of his extension.

Meanwhile the usual Flacco debate has been in full swing over the past months among analysts and fans. Is he an elite quarterback? (Shudder, I loathe that term) Does he have the league’s strongest arm?” Is he an overrated talent? Should the Ravens even re-sign him at the end of the season?

Among the various posts out there on the Internet I found one that made a lot of sense. The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel sat down with the Editor in Chief of Football Outsiders- Aaron Schatz and discussed a variety of topics. His comments about Joe Flacco were some of the best I’ve read in terms of his ability and as you can guess I agree with Schatz’s assessment.

Here’s a quote:

“I don’t think it’s accepted as conventional wisdom that he is above average, Part of the problem with Flacco is a general problem that is ‘the star or else’ problem. If they aren’t seen as superlative, that they must be awful. Average fans have a very hard time thinking of players in terms of average, above average and below average. They tend to group players in terms of great or horrible.”


Schatz’s point makes a lot of sense considering how many “all or nothing” articles written about Flacco proliferate the blogosphere. There’s a lot to be said for a having a quarterback that’s pretty good even though he may never get to the Brady or Rodgers level. As we’ve seen for the last four years you can certainly win with a Quarterback like Joe as the Ravens have made it to the AFC Championship game two out of Flacco’s four trips to the playoffs.

Isn’t that really the most important thing, winning?

Flacco fits in well with what the Ravens coaching staff wants to do offensively and more often than not he’s successful. What more do people want?

Schatz’s next point was so obvious but astute considering it’s so rarely talked about.

“Because it means you don’t have Matt Moore, This was a problem with Jason Campbell for a long time. … Campbell was average but everyone wanted to get rid of him. Then the Redskins ended up with Rex Grossman. Baltimore fans who don’t like Flacco should ask themselves what they would be getting instead.”


So fine, you think Flacco sucks so who do you want instead? I’m not talking about in your Fantasy football world I’m talking about real football. Was there anyone in this year’s draft class that you’d rather have under center? Was there a free agent worth pursuing that would have been better than Flacco? Probably not.

The point is that it’s not easy to find a successful quarterback in the NFL and if you’re lucky enough to draft a Hall of Fame signal caller then your team can be very good for a very long time. Free agency is never a sure thing, just check around the league and you’ll see huge contracts to mediocre players like Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. All because teams are desperate to win.

Perhaps I should direct you to the Sporcle quiz on Ravens starting quarterbacks over their franchise history. It’s a long and fairly undistinguished list littered with also rans like Stoney Case and Scott Mitchell. It should make you appreciate the ironman Flacco even more.

Admittedly, Flacco had a down season last year but according to Football Outsiders he was at the very worst average last year. He threw for 3,610 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he also had career highs in interceptions (12) and fumbles (nine). He also lost the top two targets in Ravens history with the releases of Todd Heap and Derrick Mason and rookie Torrey Smith didn’t even start Week One. There’s no reason to think that he won’t rebound and be even better in 2012.

At least I think so.

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One Response to “Why it’s Okay for Flacco to be an “Above Average Joe””

  1. Judy Bowen says:

    I think working with Jim Caldwell will make a huge difference this upcoming season. Flacco had no one to work with last season. I read an article that said that Joe is actually better at this point than Peyton Manning was when Caldwell started working with him. I also like that Joe doesn’t get all flustered when things start unraveling. That reminds me of the way Johnny Unitas was. His education should be just about complete now and I think he’ll take off.

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