Quarterbacks: if you want to go anywhere in the NFL, you need one. It’s the most important position in the league, and maybe the most important position in all of sports. For the Baltimore Ravens, other than Joe Flacco, the quarterback situation has been one wild ride in their 21-year history. Its safe to say the Ravens aren't up there with the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, and Dallas Cowboys in terms of multiple good quarterbacks in their history. Its really been Flacco and pick one from a hat. Ravens fans have seen 19 starting quarterbacks take the field at Memorial Stadium and M&T Bank Stadium throughout these 21 years.
ESPN SportsNation has decided to rank the best quarterbacks from every team by asking their NFL Nation reporters and polling the fans themselves. Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley ranked his best Ravens quarterbacks below:
1. Joe Flacco
2. Vinny Testaverde
3. Trent Dilfer
4. Steve McNair
5. Anthony Wright
Hensley then gave his reasoning on why his list formed the way it was.
"Quarterback has never been the Ravens' strong suit, and its reflected in 19 starters in the franchise's 21 years of existence. Flacco is the unquestioned best, owning almost every team passing record and leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl title with a near-perfect postseason. Testaverde, the Ravens' first starting quarterback, kept Baltimore competitive by throwing 51 touchdowns in 29 games. Dilfer was the perfect game manager to complement the NFL's stingiest defense, which resulted in the Ravens' first Super Bowl title. McNair led the Ravens to their best regular-season (13-3) with his confident demeanor, and Wright helped Baltimore to the playoffs by delivering one of the best comebacks in team history."
Over on the fans side of things, there was a complete mix of Hensley's list after the top spot. The fans voted as followed:
1. Joe Flacco
2. Steve McNair
3. Vinny Testaverde
4. Trent Dilfer
5. Kyle Boller
6. Anthony Wright
Both of these lists represent the amount of flip-flopping and a "its anyone's guess" approach after Flacco. The top three after Flacco are McNair, Dilfer and Testaverde, any of them have a case to be the second best quarterback in team history. Dilfer, even though some will say he's the worst quarterback to win a Super Bowl, was the perfect type of quarterback for that team. Some of those players from that time have said they wished Dilfer returned the following season, but the team decided to move on from him in favor of Elvis Grbac. The defense actually respected Dilfer.
Testaverde actually played in an era where the Ravens specialty was offense, not defense. While he was only the quarterback for two seasons from 1996-1997, Testaverde went to the Pro Bowl during Baltimore's inaugural year throwing for 4,177 yards and 33 touchdowns.
McNair was traded from the Tennessee Titans to the Ravens after the team selected Vince Young in the 2006 NFL Draft. It was the first time in Baltimore's history that the franchise had a true proven quarterback who you know can get you to a Super Bowl at the helm, and it showed throughout the regular season. While the 2006 Ravens defense was the best since the 2000 unit, McNair led a balanced offense and for a guy who hadn't played a full 16 game season since 2002, he would proceed to do just that in 2006 as the Ravens won their second AFC North Division title. McNair was exactly the type of quarterback the Ravens needed as he completed 63.0% of his passes, threw for 3,065 yards, and 16 touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Super Bowl dreams were squandered by McNair and the offense during the heartbreaking AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium. McNair threw two costly interceptions and the Ravens lost 15-6 due to five Adam Vinatieri field goals. When it comes to the worst playoff losses in Ravens history, its either this game or the 2011 AFC Championship. 2007 would be McNair's final season and it was a tough one for the future Hall Of Famer as he was riddled by injuries and poor play as the Ravens finished the year 5-11 after an offseason full of Super Bowl hopes. McNair's retirement set the stage for Baltimore to draft Flacco in April of 2008.
Who do you think belongs in the top five Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks in franchise history?