Joe Flacco's comments on Tuesday to Baltimore radio station WNST are drawing flak from around the league.
Flacco, who is currently angling for a long term deal with the Ravens, was asked if he thought he was a top-five quarterback in the NFL.
What do you expect me to say? I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best, Flacco said. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way, he said. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question. But that doesn't mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that's the way it is, that's the way I feel it is, and that's the way I feel it should be.
Flacco is about to start on the final year of his five-year $30 million deal he signed with the Ravens when they drafted him in 2008. With the prospect of a new contract on the horizon, he and his agent have been talking about Flacco as a top passer, because he wants to get paid like one.
Flacco may have a few points in his favor when he says he thinks he is the best quarterback in the league, his 44 wins over his first four seasons are the best ever. He has led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his four seasons, and he has thrown 80 touchdowns to 46 interceptions.
But he has not managed to throw a touchdown in 11 of his 64 professional starts nor in four of his nine post-season starts. While the Ravens have gone to the playoffs and won at least one game in each of his four seasons, he is just 4-3 as a playoff starter.
In the post-season his quarterback rating drops to a 70.4, down from 86.0 in the regular season and his completion percentage drops from 60.8 to 54.3. He has six game winning drives and 11 fourth quarter comebacks, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
But over his first four years as a starter Tom Brady had 17 game winning drives and 10 fourth quarter comebacks, and Peyton Manning went for 16 game winning drives and 13 comebacks in his first four seasons.
The system that Flacco plays in also hurts his case. The Ravens ranked 18 in pass attempts last year with 544, just below league average, prior to that they hadn't cracked 25th overall in Flacco's four years as a starter. But they have consistently been in the top 10 in rushing attempts, bottoming out at eighth in the league last year.
Flacco simply isn't asked to do as much as most of the quarterbacks in the league. He is supposed to manage the game, avoid turnovers and allow the Raven's running game to take the brunt of the pressure on offense.
All of this adds up to a player who is good, but not great. Flacco is probably closest to Ben Roethlisberger among his peers. They have similar styles and similar numbers over the course of their first four years. Flacco isn't quite as mobile and isn't asked to do quite as much as Roethlisberger, but they are similar players.
The difference between them is that Roethlisberger has actually led his team to the Super Bowl three times, and even won it twice. For that reason he got an 8-year $120 million contract in 2008. Look for Flacco to get somewhere near that, though probably less years and less money to compensate for his lack of hardware.
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