ESPN recently ranked all of the quarterbacks in the NFL. Via a survey that included NFL front-office members and coaches, you'd think there would be little to argue with. Yet, here we are discussing how Flacco should be ranked higher.
According to Mike Sando, the definition of a tier 1 quarterback is as follows:
Tier 1 quarterbacks can carry their teams week after week and contend for championships without as much help.
While some can argue about Flacco's stats, this has been him throughout his career. For most of Flacco's career, his offensive line has been middle of the road while having absolutely no offensive weapons. A strong running game has been present but a majority of that can be attributed to Flacco's cannon of an arm keeping defenses pushed out of the box as often as the Ravens saw with Kyle Boller and Trent Dilfer at the helm. Some of the ability of the Ravens to rush the ball has also come from just being stubborn about it and forcing the game to slow down and keep opposing offenses from seeing the field as much.
We've made the case against Flacco's stats since he became a Raven, so there is no new news on that front. But when you look at who the Ravens have had on offense for Flacco to throw to, it epitomizes what the tier 1 definition is all about. Seriously, the group is a jumble of young players that never lived up to potential and veteran players that were on the back side of their primes. Here is a list of the wide receivers that were ever a good player in their careers and the ages that they were a Raven.
Steve Smith Sr. - 35 - present
Anquan Boldin - 30 - 32
TJ Houshmandzadeh - 32 years old
Lee Evans - 30 years old
Jacoby Jones - 28 - 30
Torrey Smith - 22 - 26
The list isn't a very long one to begin with and from that, you can only count Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, and Jacoby Jones as the positives for the team. Outside of these four players, it is list of broken wide receivers like Tommy Streeter, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, and so on. No one has been able to make those duds look like good players regardless of whatever teams they have been on over their respective careers, meaning that Flacco is not alone in being able to "develop a wide receiver".
Yet even without superstar weapons like other quarterbacks have had to play with, Flacco still has as many rings as Peyton Manning, a tier 1 quarterback that faltered yet again in the playoffs, and has beaten Andrew Luck in the playoffs, another tier 1 quarterback that gets praise despite not putting up like Flacco has.
Flacco has not only done what some called unattainable, but he has done so while dealing with offensive coordinator changes every season for the last few years. Guys like Gary Kubiak, Cam Cameron, and Jim Caldwell. He is now on his fourth in Marc Trestman this season, and he has steadily improved every season regardless of what is around him and whatever hurdles he has to deal with.
Not only can we make the argument for Flacco to be ranked higher, but several other talent evaluators apparently thought that he is a top ranked quarterback.
A defensive coordinator... placed Flacco in the top tier with nine others, pointing to arm strength and how well Flacco played last season.
This is a defensive coordinator and regardless of who it is, it is a guy that knows the challenges of going out there and defending against a player like Flacco. This particular defensive coordinator also points out that Flacco played well last season, and we all know that Flacco saw his wide receivers let him down to the tune of 472 yards lost on dropped passes. Some of the others that ranked Flacco lower are also front-office people that might not be as adept at talent evaluation as we've seen recently from several teams in the last few years.
A head coach echoed the sentiment that should put Flacco in the top tier of quarterbacks.
He can go win the game.
And isn't that what the definition of the top tier guys are? A player that go out there and win the game despite what he has around him.
For me, I'll always go for the guys that have to gameplan against a quarterback with all the skills that Flacco has than a guy who sits in the owner's box and hands millions of dollars off to bad players (Chicago and San Francisco anyone?)