I’m not sure more egg has ever been put on more faces than it was Sunday when Joe Flacco not only led his team to the Super Bowl, but had one of the top postseason performances in NFL history. Flacco has been one of the most scrutinized QB’s in the NFL by the national media, by fellow NFL players, by opposing fans, local fans, local media and occasionally his own teammates over the last few years.
Now that he is a Super Bowl MVP, the second QB to ever throw 11 TDs and no interceptions in the playoffs, the first Quarterback to ever win playoffs game each of his first 5 years (breaking his own record of 4), the quarterback with the most playoff wins in the first five years of a career, the winningest road quarterback in playoff history, and the winningest Quarterback in the NFL since he entered the league, we have to put the following sayings to bed, or else you will get banned from discussing football at an intelligent level… we’ll even avoid the infamous “elite” word.
1. “He just Doesn’t have that look in his eyes.”
For years Joe was described as looking aloof, like a ‘deer in headlights’, and not having that fire inside. Well, can’t say that anymore. People have wanted him to possess a fiery demeanor like a Matt Ryan or Phillip Rivers or Tom Brady, but that has never been his style. Joe is laid back and cool and while emotional quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady froze up in the clutch during our playoff run… Joe Flacco was simply ‘Joe Cool’ or more likely ‘Joe Clutch’.
2. “He can’t win the big one.”
Prior to the 2011 season, Joe Flacco was described as the player who couldn’t win the big one, couldn’t beat Ben Roethelisbeger (though he already beat Pitt a couple times), and had no ‘big wins’. Let alone the fact that drops by TJ Houshmandzadeh and Anquan Boldin prevented him from being in his second AFC Championship in his first 3 years. Joe now has 9 playoff wins… which all should qualify as big, has won three straight regular season games in Pittsburgh, has beaten New England two of the last three times, and is of course a Super Bowl MVP. So, big games? Those are starting to look like his specialty.
3. “(Insert Name of Young QB) is already better than Joe Flacco”
Every year some young player makes a splash in the NFL, and fans and analysts are quick to tell you that player is already better than Joe Flacco. This year it included RG3 and Andrew Luck and the previous years Flacco has been passed over in people’s rankings by players like Matt Stafford, Josh Freeman, and Cam Newton. Everyone has a right to an opinion, but let’s just make it a rule of thumb that if they’ve never won a playoff game they can’t ever be ranked in front of Flacco. I’m even tempted to add in the players that have only won one playoff game like Schaub, Romo or Matt Ryan.. but let’s keep it simple.
4. “He should be looking at pictures on the sidelines.”
For years, Ravens fans have complained that Joe Flacco doesn’t look at pictures on the sidelines after each possession like Peyton Manning does. Peyton is certainly one of the best Quarterbacks in recent history, but Joe Flacco has found a way to win more games than anyone since he’s been in the league, and it has never included looking at pictures. If you ever watch “One Winning Drive” you’ll consistently hear him talking to receivers on the sideline about weaknesses and tendencies in the opposing defenses. He doesn’t look at pictures, but clearly he knows how to read a defense.
5. “He’ll never win a Super Bowl in Lamarr Woodley’s lifetime”
Lamarr Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers told the NFL Network that Joe Flacco would never win a Super Bowl in his Lifetime. Last I checked, Woodley is still alive, so…. foot in mouth. Since that comment, Joe Flacco is 3-1 against the Steelers and has two division championships and a Super Bowl MVP. Let your play do the talking Lamarr, I’m sure Joe can’t wait to see you next fall and greet you with a smile!
6. “I don’t think Joe Flacco is the Ravens Quarterback of the future”
Though the Ravens clinched a playoff berth very early in the season, people were jumping off the Joe Flacco Bandwagon like it was the diving board at the community pool. Many in the media questioned if the Ravens would even give him a long term contract, callers called into talk shows talking about Tyrod Taylor and blogs were written about how the Ravens have a serious problem at the quarterback position. ‘Flacco-ing’ even became a thing, depicting his humiliation after the Denver pick six. There was a strong divide between the Joe Flacco lovers and haters, but now the haters have mostly back tracked or joined the ride. Joe Flacco is the Raven’s future, probably their leader, and will soon have $100m to his name with Maryland taxes being taken for at least the next five years.
7. “Joe Fluke-O”
Did you think we’d finish this list without a shot at Skip Bayless… come on now. Skip Bayless is well paid to have strong, entertaining opinions. Those have included continuous criticism of players like Lebron James, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco. He labeled Joe Flacco as ‘Joe Fluke-O’, describing him a a player that will never lead the Ravens to a championship, and their ‘achilles heel’. He predicted the Ravens would lose the rest of their games when sitting at 8-2 this season, and has proclaimed that players like Tony Romo are much better than Joe. Skip Bayless does a good job of making people pay attention, but in the future the name Fluke-O won’t get that done.
8. “He’s not very accurate”
I never quite understood this, but fans would lament over every throw Joe Flacco missed in a football game, many times while not paying attention to how hard he was hit while releasing it. “He’s not very accurate and you can’t teach accuracy,” was claimed by many amateur GM’s. I’ve watched every quarterback in the NFL and they all miss big throws at big times. I guess some people think throwing a football is as easy as it seems on Madden. Flacco can thow the football with the best of them, and even connected on 12/13 throws during a streak in the second half of the AFC Championship.
9. “He’s a game manager”
Critics have said that the Ravens have won in spite of him, and many have referred to him as a ‘game manager’, whose role was to limit mistakes, and give the ball the to Ray Rice while the defense won the game. I’m not denying that earlier in his career that wasn’t a big part of the game plan, but the Ravens just won a championship with the 16th ranked defense in the NFL. The Ravens averaged 27.5 points per game in the playoffs and ‘unleashed Joe’ in a good portion of all 4 games. One thing I love about Joe, he seems just as happy to win a game with 10 pass attempts as he does with four touchdown passes. He can manage a game, but he’s also capable of putting a team on his back for a Super Bowl run.
10. “Tyler Palko was the right fit”
Not that this is ever really talked about in Baltimore, but how could I talk about Joe Flacco wining the Super Bowl MVP without wondering what Dave Wannstedt of the Pitt Panthers and his offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh (remember him) were thinking for sticking with Tyler Palko over Joe Flacco over at the University of Pittsburgh. One has to wonder if Wannstedt would still be the coach at Pitt if he had committed to Flacco who led the Delaware Blue Hens to the 1AA National Championship game and followed that with 5 straight postseasons appearances in the NFL. Maybe three or four years with Flacco under center at Pitt could have led the Panthers back to past glory they’ve been craving.
Pittsburgh is on their third different coach since firing Wannstedt in 2010 and the Panthers still struggle to attract fans at an off campus stadium (Heinz Field). Picking college quarterbacks is an incredibly tough decision for college coaches, but when a Super Bowl MVP slips out of your grasp, it’s worth noting. Clearly they knew it was a mistake right away by not releasing him of his scholarship; forcing him to pay his own way at Delaware for a year. Joe’s not the type to hold a grudge or criticize others, but I’m sure the experience still fuels him to this day.