Ever since Eli Manning declared himself elite a couple years ago and then proved it later on that season by winning his second Super Bowl in four season everyone is looking to anoint the next elite quarterback. The younger Manning was now considered elite to all of the NFL. He was in a class with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and his brother Peyton Manning now according to the national media. Who was next to add to that class? Tony Romo? Jay Cutler? Matt Ryan? Matt Schaub? Joe Flacco? One of these quarterbacks were next to join the class of the elite. Only what makes a quarterback elite?
Seemingly the criteria for this title is that a quarterback needs to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. The four quarterbacks mentioned above all have a ring on their finger. The six who are competing for that next spot have combined for zero Super Bowl rings. Is this a fair assessment of a quarterback? Today the media is infatuated with the quarterback position. You turn on ESPN and all you'll see is their love affair with all the young new age quarterbacks. Then a couple tiers above those young guys are the Aaron Rodgers, Tom Bradys, and Peyton Mannings who can do no wrong no matter what. Why? Well, the answer to that is their ring finger is warm.
This era of elite quarterbacks will be based on the amount of Super Bowls they won, not the stats the quarterbacks compiled along the way. I wonder how Dan Marino or Jim Kelly would be perceived by today's media. They both combined for zero Super Bowl rings. Jim Kelly actually went to four straight Super Bowls and lost them all. If a quarterback in this day and age did that he would be profiled as a choke artist. Yet, he's considered to be one of the best quarterbacks of all-time because of his statistics. Something that is now looked at second to wins. We'll never hear anyone say they rather have Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson over Dan Marino or Jim Kelly. However, you will hear I'd rather the 2000 Ravens over one of those Dolphins or Bills teams.
Player A Career : 65.7 cmp%/6.4 TD%/1.7 INT%/8.1 Y/A/104.9 Rating
Player B Career : 60.5 cmp%/4.1 TD%/2.2 INT%/7.1 Y/A/86.3 Rating
I used rate stats instead of cumulative stats because both play in different systems and it wouldn't be fair to say QB A is better than QB B because of total yards. Anyway you all should know who these players are. They both took over their teams in 2008. QB A is considered to be an elite QB. QB B is on the cusp on that. Rich Eisen called him "sneaky elite" before the AFC Conference Championship game. That had to give it away. I'm talking about Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco.
If Joe Flacco wins a Super Bowl he'll be considered an elite quarterback. I love Flacco and I think he's a great QB. He fits the Ravens perfectly. However, is it fair to call him elite just like Rodgers? There is no comparison here statistically. Rodgers blows Flacco out of the water. The numbers Rodgers puts up is elite. Elite isn't a word that shouldn't be thrown around loosely.
I believe it's not discrediting Flacco when I say he's not elite. He certainly a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. That's for sure. He just doesn't have the production that the truly elite have. That's okay because it makes my point about this elite quarterback nonsense. Each generation only produces a handful of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Yet somehow teams without those two to three elite quarterbacks manage to fair just fine. A team can win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback. The Giants have done it twice in the last four years. And guess what? The team that will win this year will not have an elite quarterback.
The two teams that made the Super Bowl are great. Notice the italic font that the word 'team' is in. The Ravens as a team made the Super Bowl. This isn't a time to celebrate only Joe Flacco, this is a time to celebrate the Ravens team as a whole. A true team effort gets a team to the final week of the season.
Now to make it seem like I'm not trying to bash the great quarterback that Flacco is I've decided to shortly say that he's definitely elite in someways. This post-season he's been elite in comparison to his regular season numbers. He's outplayed Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. Flacco posted a 125.6, 116.2, and 106.2 passer rating in the three playoff games he's played in so far. Flacco also has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
Joe Flacco is certainly making a case for being an elite playoff quarterback. As for the regular season though? Not yet.