BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 23: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium on August 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
In ranking the top quarterbacks in the NFL, you have to start with the trio of Tom Brady (New England Patriots), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) and Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints). Until he proves he has returned to his pre-injury status, Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) cannot be part of that discussion. Despite winning and being named MVP of two out of the past four Super Bowls, Eli Manning (New York Giants) is not at that level.
Neither are Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys), Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) and Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) as they have all either put up solid numbers or won titles, but are just not in the class of the top three or four. Add Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles), Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons), Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) and you have guys who are considered among the better QBs in the league but other than stats have nothing else to show of it.
However, in talking about those guys, you rarely hear the name Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) mentioned in the conversation. Surprisingly, Flacco has won more game in the first four years of his career than any other QB inNFL history. He has made the playoffs every year and the AFC Championship Game to of the four. The stats might not be as gaudy as the other names, but the wins are undeniable.
Even after easily outplaying Brady in last year's AFC Championship Game and throwing for over 300 yards, he still gets virtually no credit. So what will it take short of a Super Bowl trophy and probably that game's MVP trophy to elevate him among the best in the league?
In looking at his performance so far in both training camp and three first three preseason games, many see a more mature, fully focused and take charge Joe Flacco than ever before. Even his stats in these three games prove the obvious improvement: 43-60 for 433 yards, three TDs and one meaningless interception on a Hail Mary pass just before halftime in the last game. That's a 71% completion rate and a QB Rating of over 101.
If Flacco could maintain even close to those numbers throughout the 2012 regular season, that would translate to 70 more completions and well over 500 more passing yards that he had in the 2011 season. If Flacco throws for over 4,000 yards in 2012 and gets anywhere close to a 71% completion rate, the Ravens offense will be among the best in the league and Joe will have to be included among the top signal-callers in the league.