In the previous installments of this series, I covered the defensive greats of the Ravens. However, we now go to the other side of the ball; offense. The franchise may not be known for its offensive superstars, but Baltimore has surely produced some very good players on offense.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it, the Ravens have had some horrible quarterbacks during their existence. I won't name names, just to spare you all from bad flashbacks, but it's been bad. Thankfully, that all changed in 2008, when a tall quarterback out of a small school in Delaware came to save the day. With the selection of Joseph Vincent "Joe" Flacco, Baltimore football would never be the same.
The selection of Flacco received criticism from many outside of Baltimore, like Mel Kiper Jr., who questioned the pick, saying Flacco was "a second-round talent." However, the team couldn't have been more excited, Ray Lewis said "We've got ourselves a quarterback," while Ozzie said he was "the guy to lead our football team into the future." However, the real stamp of approval came from the fans themselves, who chanted "Let's go Flacco," at his NFL debut. This level of excitement was unprecedented, as no Baltimore QB had ever inspired and enchanted crowds like that. This guy was really something special.
That year, his rookie season, after being tossed into the fire when the two other quarterbacks to be left unnamed on the roster went down, Flacco still managed to lead his team to the AFC Championship. I think that really spoke volumes, to put the team on your back, and lead them to the Conference Championship Game. This ability to win has followed Joe throughout his career, and led him, and the Ravens to success.
This winning ability culminated in the legendary 2012 season playoff run, where he posted a stat line of 11 TDs, 0 INTs, and a QB rating of 117.2, and ultimately led the Ravens to their second Lombardi Trophy.
The common argument against Flacco is that he isn't "elite", and only a mediocre game manager. That simply isn't true, and the whole argument is quite ridiculous. However, instead of launching into a heated debate about the issue, I invite you to read my earlier essay about this very argument. Or, to be brief, here's the TL;DR of my paper: (Too Lazy, Didn't Read)
Joe Flacco isn't necessarily elite, but he's a natural winner. At times, Flacco can be elite, see the Super Bowl run, for example. But what really matters in this league is winning. No one cares if you're good, but can't win. In this day and age, fans want titles, and rings. Joe knows how to deliver both, he loves winning, and he knows how to do it. Just look at the records, look at the stat books, Joe Flacco is a winner. No doubt about it. I leave you with this quote, from the man himself.
It doesn't make sense why people like to hate on Flacco, he's such as likeable guy. I personally love 'Joe Cool' for who he is, I mean who buys McDonald's after signing the largest contact in NFL history for a QB? To add to the 'average' lifestyle of Joe, he married his high school sweetheart, and when his contract news broke, he was at a family pizza night. And what exactly is Flacco going to do with all of that contact money?
Joe Flacco on what he's going to do with all his new money: "Just gonna look at it I guess."— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) March 4, 2013
Baltimore is very lucky to have a great guy, and a great player in Joe Flacco. I guess his presence makes up for all those years of torture. I honestly wouldn't take any other QB in the league over Flacco, it's seemingly impossible to hate him. I've enjoyed watching him take the team from a defensive powerhouse, to a team that actually receives respect for its offense. Flacco recently said he could see himself playing into his 40s, I certainly hope he does, and I'd love to see him as a Raven for life. Here's to 'Joe Cool' leading the offense for years to come.