After the Baltimore Ravens "defended" their home turf with a 34-17 win over the New York Jets and all the praise was lavished on this amazingly opportunistic defense, attention turned towards the quarterback play of Joe Flacco. The criticism and debate began on his poor statistical game and inconsistency this season, as the naysayers battled the supporters all around town, on sports talk radio, local and national TV and even here on Baltimore Beatdown.
No one is going to deny that Flacco had nowhere near the success he had in weeks one and three compared to weeks two and four. That lack of every game consistency fuels the fire of the detractors and fans the flames of his supporters, who wonder how he can be so loudly bombarded when the team has such a huge victory.
Many fans want to see Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady rolled into one when Flacco steps on the field each and every game. The opposing defense should never influence how bad or how good he should play and the mere fact that he won and did not lose the game is just not good enough. On the other hand, when you look at the Ravens early exits the past three years in the post season, the fingers consistently point a the lack of solid QB play as the main culprit.
So which is it?
The good thing last night was that Joe Flacco was definitely not the worst quarterback out on the field in that game. Jets QB Mark Sanchez was abysmal and while no one in Baltimore even thought Sanchez was ever near being Joe's equal, he still found many more ways to stink up the place than Flacco ever did. Yeah, Joe threw a bad pick-six and lost a fumble trying too hard to extend a play when he could have cut his losses and gotten rid of the ball.
However, unlike Sanchez, he at least had the presence to try to escape and keep the play alive and make something happen. Sanchez was the definition of a deer in headlights, taking god-awful hits all night long that resulted in not only turnovers but scores that gave the Ravens the victory.
Although Flacco finished with a 37.4 Quarterback Rating, Sanchez came in even worse with a 30.5 QBR. Flacco at least had 164 yards on his ten completions while all Sanchez could manage was a paltry 119 on eleven completed passes. The Jets two dangerous wideouts, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress managed a combined total of six receptions for 66 yards, even though they were targeted 20 times. While Flacco wasn't much better, he didn't need to be in order to still come away with the "W."
The point is, and it has been said across this blog over and over by this writer, is that in order for the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl, QB Joe Flacco does not need to be a very good quarterback, just good enough. If that means he needs to complete 80-90% of his passes in a game to carry the team to victory in a certain game, then so be it. If that also means he can have a relatively statistical clunker as many would call last night's performance, then that should be fine with me as well as all ravens fans out there.
What would you prefer to see, a quarterback flinging the ball all over the place, racking up great stats while consistently trying to play catch-up from behind and losing, or a quarterback who merely wants to make sure his team has more points on the scoreboard than the other team by the final score? Don't get me wrong, as I am in no way trying to compare Flacco to Trent Dilfer, the Ravens super Bowl 35 winning QB, whose job was "not to lose" the game. Flacco is one of the top 8-12 QBs in the league, depending on whose opinion you chose to respect. Dilfer was arguably the worst in the league in 2000, but he does get to say he is a "Super Bowl winning QB."
Flacco is still young, the offensive line is still meshing, the young receivers trying to stay healthy and progressing. Football is the consummate team game and every player's success on the field can be tied to their teammates success, or failure. When given time, Joe Flacco can be deadly, as he has as strong an arm as there is in the NFL and can softly place a pass just about as good as most any other QB and has proven it this season.
Give the opposing defenses a bit of well-deserved credit. The Tennessee Ttians are proving they are a very solid defense, leading the AFC South at 3-1, only a FG away from being undefeated. The Jets, while only 2-2 and now in 3rd place in the AFC East, still have one of the best, aggressive and confusing defenses in the league. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for Joe Flacco, his teammates and their fans, the best defense in the NFL wears the purple of the Baltimore Ravens and because of that, Flacco only needs to be, and definitely is, good enough.