Fans around the area scoff at the mere mention that Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco is not a top ten QB, pointing to his record as a starter and success in the post season over the first four years of his NFL career. However, when you compare his statistics on the road versus those in the cozy confines of Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, you might want to not only consider that top-ten, much top-20 notion.
Looking at Flacco four home games so far in the 2012 season, and you could easily argue that he is among the league's best in front of the hometown crowd. In four games, Joe has is averaging 317 yards per game with a 67% completion rate, thrown seven TD passes to only two interceptions, and had a QB Rating over 106 in three of the four games.
Unfortunately, his road stats are a virtual mirror opposite of the success he has had at home. In three games as a visitor, including yesterday's 43-13 loss at the Houston Texans, the normally "Joe Cool" is averaging 188 passing yards a game with a 50% completion rate, has only two TD passes compared with four picks and has not broken 66 in a QB Rating.
Decidedly different stories depending on where he is playing paints a picture with a leading question of handling the pressure of playing in a hostile environment. There have been successes on the road in his career, most notably a last second win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last year as well as an excellent performance in the team's loss to the New England Patriots in last year's AFC Championship Game.
However, in the Ravens four losses last year, all on the road, Flacco has not played nearly as well as he has at home, a trend that appears to be continuing this season, regardless of the supposed level of competition. In order for Flacco to quiet the critics at home and abroad,he has to develop consistency in his play, a trend he has not been able to change since coming into the league.
For a QB to be considered "elite" in the NFL, a term that perhaps is as overused and subjective as any, one must be both consistent and able to not only win on the road, but carry his team when other facets of the team cannot. Regardless of how much of a Ravens fan you claim to be, you just cannot put Flacco in that category until he gets that proverbial monkey off of his back, and not based on his play in any one single game.
Placing the blame on the offensive coordinator or the offensive line is not going to sway anyone's opinion, as the better QB's in the league succeed despite those limitations. Flacco has not and is not one of them. Until he can perform equally as good on the road, or at least in the vicinity of his home statistics, he will continue to be considered a good quarterback, yet far from the group that he so desperately wants to be included with.
Will that be good enough to get the Ravens back to the playoffs for the fifth time in his five-year NFL career? Probably, as he has done just that each year. Will it be good enough to get to the Super Bowl, much less win it if the current trend continues. Doubtful, very doubtful.