In analyzing the NFL, a common theme over the past decade has been to judge quarterbacks as to whether they're elite or not.
This trend hasn't been relegated to armchair quarterbacks and various prognosticators either. Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who was with the franchise from 2001-2012, graded each NFL starting quarterback in a contributing piece to the website The Sideline View.
After listing 18 quarterbacks and assigning them grades, Angelo gets to Flacco. On a scale that seems to span from 5.5-9 (for whatever reason), Angelo assigns Flacco a 7.1. And it doesn't appear he's thrilled with giving him that high of a mark.
"He only gets into this category because of his Super Bowl win. I’m not sold he has the ability to be an elite QB. He can play too cautious or get locked on to a receiver. He can be hot and cold, needs to be more room temperature; if the Ravens are going to make a run again."
Flacco is among the quarterbacks in a category titled, "Solid traits but limited. Can 'win with him' but need a good supporting cast and quality coaching. Shown to be a consistent performer, but not a top one."
Is Flacco the same kind of quarterback as Peyton Manning (9), Tom Brady (8.9), Aaron Rodgers (8.8) and Drew Brees (8.7)? No. But would you trade Flacco for Cam Newton (8.7), Philip Rivers (8.6) or Andrew Luck (8.5)? What about Alex Smith (8.3) or Nick Foles (8.0)?
My point is — and no disrespect intended toward Angelo and his opinion — the notion of ranking which quarterbacks are elite seems like an incredibly overrated measuring stick. You have your top-notch quarterbacks, as mentioned. After that, you have a slew of quarterbacks across the NFL you can win with. Flacco has a Super Bowl ring. Ben Roethlisberger has two. Eli Manning also has two. Russell Wilson now has one.
There's more to football than the quarterback. If the offensive line doesn't block well, a quarterback won't have time. If there's no running game to balance out a defense, a quarterback will face constant pressure. So many variables are involved that go into a quarterback being successful.
When Flacco's at his best, the rest of his team is performing at a high level. Generally, that's how it works for other great NFL quarterbacks too.