Joe Flacco was in all the sports media last week after he claimed that he doesn't get enough credit for the Ravens' success. After yesterday's performance, and all kinds of assessments and grades on the performance, it seems that Flacco is right.
Let's leave aside Dan Dierdorf's asinine in-game commentary, regularly pointing out Joe Cool's low completion percentage while praising Yates for playing really well, other than those picks (and near-picks). All over the media, Joe's performance was called average, mediocre, a "C"; conventional wisdom is that he did nothing to prove his critics wrong.
Look a bit closer, and you'll see that Joe Flacco played great against the Texans. Outstanding.
The best way to illustrate how well Flacco played is by comparing his line to Alex Smith's. Smith was marginally better than Flacco in terms of completion % (57.1 - 51.9), yards per attempt (7.1 - 6.5), and rating (103.2 - 97.1). Smith had 3 TDs to Flacco's 2 on 15 more pass attempts. Smith turned the ball over once, to Flacco's 0 turnovers. And of course Smith had that 28 yard TD run.
Moreover, Flacco's performance had a much greater degree of difficulty. Houston's front seven were in the backfield all game, shutting down the Ravens' running game and sacking Flacco five times (on 32 drop-backs, as opposed to Smith's 4 sacks on 46 drop-backs). Yet Smith is being (deservedly) praised for leading his team to victory, while Flacco continues to draw Trent Dilfer comparisons.
Consider how arguably the two best QBs in football fared against tough defenses: Drew Brees put up ridiculous numbers, but threw two picks. Aaron Rodgers was victimized (like Flacco) by dropped passes, and also turned it over twice. Both wound up with a QB rating below Flacco's.
The Ravens' offensive game plan was clearly dictated by their early lead: win the field position battle (including by protecting the football), trust the defense, and maintain balance (32 pass plays, 31 rush). Flacco executed that plan very well.
Only two QBs were vastly more efficient than #5 over the weekend - Eli Manning and Tom Brady. And Manning put up his numbers against a bad defense. In other words, the Ravens are where they are because of Joe Flacco, not despite him.
What can he do against a poor defense? And for that matter, what can Brady do against a stout one? I look forward to finding out on Sunday, but I like the Ravens' chances.