There are two criticisms about Joe Flacco haunting him. Two criticisms which stick with him.
First, the perception expressing Flacco is not a leader and doesn't possess passion or care for the game of football. Ray Lewis threw Joe under the bus a few weeks ago about this exact criticism. Since then, the future Hall of Famer apologized for his remarks.
The second, Flacco does not make the players around him better. Well the Joe Flacco criticism is now two-for-two this season. When it comes to quarterbacks, guys like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and the now retired Peyton Manning are looked at as quarterbacks who can take any receiver, any playmaker, and turn them into a quality target and producer for an offense. Then there are quarterbacks like Flacco, who are looked at as guys who are carried by their receivers and playmakers. A former NFL offensive lineman who has played against Flacco and seen him first hand feels the same way about the Ravens quarterback.
During a segment on CSN New England's "Sports Tonight", Former New England Patriots and Denver Broncos center Dan Koppen was asked if Flacco would help or hurt the Ravens on Monday Night. Koppen stated the following:
"Well, if you look at his last performance, he could be a reason that they win, but over the course of his career, he's not a guy that strikes fear in your heart. Some Patriots fans have seen this team come in and win, but I believe it's more about the players around him. He needs a good running game, he needs a line, he needs those receivers, and he's also had a strong defense his whole career."
Here's the facts, every quarterback needs those things to succeed. It's not this big bad thing that everybody screams it out to be and it shouldn't be a curse and an asterisk on a quarterback who plays well but has those aspects on offense that helps the team. No quarterback can do it alone. Not even Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and others who are looked at as guys who can produce with anything given to them. Just look at Peyton Manning last year.
The whole "this quarterback makes this receiver better" and "this receiver makes this quarterback better" nonsense is false and a double standard. The fact this came from Koppen is also weird because he’s seen Flacco play some of the best games of his career first hand. Examples include the 2011 AFC Championship game and the 2012 AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Now, for arguments sake, if Flacco really doesn't make guys around him better, what about Mike Wallace? When Wallace was released by the Minnesota Vikings, many believed he was done, washed up. Everybody preached he’s one-trick pony. Not only that, but he carried the baggage of not being a good teammate in the locker room. The Ravens signed Wallace this offseason and one of the biggest reasons Wallace signed with Baltimore was because of Joe Flacco. That has paid off dearly for both sides as Wallace has caught 57 receptions for 851 yards and 4 touchdowns so far this season and has proven he is more than just a "one-trick pony." If anything else, what Wallace has done this season proves that Flacco at least does make guys around him better.
This whole perception saying a quarterback makes his receivers better or vice-versa is something only meant to lead to more debates about how "elite" a quarterback is. A quarterback makes plays for his playmakers and playmakers make plays for their quarterbacks because they trust each other and it helps the team win.
Flacco is a franchise quarterback and has produced with numerous targets over his career, namely, Mike Wallace, Steve Smith Sr., Torrey Smith, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin. Flacco’s displayed chemistry with all and such chemistry has won games for the Ravens. In the end, that's all that matters, right?