Joe Flacco just won his first Super Bowl. He was named MVP of the game, and earned his place in NFL history. Flacco, at the beginning of this season, told the American public that he was indeed “elite”. This word has come up often when talking about quarterbacks, yet it’s meaning is somewhat ambiguous. Hopefully, the air can be cleared right here, right now: Flacco is not amongst the “elite” of today’s quarterbacks.
When you talk about “elite” you’re talking about the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Montana, Young, Elway, Staubach, and Unitas would be considered “elite” during their time. These guys were the best of the best, and are considered a once in a generation talent. They won Super Bowl after Super Bowl and proved time and time again that they belong amongst the greats in the Hall of Fame.
Today’s elites are just the same as those guys. Today’s elites are as follows: Manning, Manning, Brady, Brees, and Rodgers. There is no one else, including Joe Flacco, that is joining that group, at least for the time being. I wouldn’t even consider Ben Roethlisberger, who has won two Super Bowls of his own, elite. There is no mistake that his defense has carried him to those Super Bowls, and while he certainly has made the plays, he just isn’t quite as good as those “elite” guys. If Roethlisberger isn’t elite, you can bet that Flacco isn’t elite.
While Flacco certainly had an elite playoff run, (1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), his regular season certainly wasn’t anything to write home about. He ranked 15th in touchdown passes, 14th in passing yards, and 28th in passer rating (minimum one pass attempt). These numbers are no more than middle of the road, and could barely pass for good, not even close to elite. Yes, he moved up the QB charts thanks to his postseason play, but until his regular season numbers mirror Brady’s, Manning’s, or Rodgers’, he’s still nothing more than a good quarterback.
The point is this: elite is a term that is used far too loosely these days. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are among the top 10 quarterbacks of all time. They are truly the elite of the elite, there is no question. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning have all earned their “elite” status by the numbers they put up or the magical Super Bowl runs they have made. While Flacco has his ring, he doesn’t have the numbers, nor the “leader” status, that those guys have.
Flacco can become elite, without a doubt. He certainly has the ability to win another ring or two, put up league-leading numbers, and become the emotional leader of his team. With Ray Lewis out of the way, Joe Flacco is going to be the face of the Baltimore Ravens franchise. Everything is going to be set for Flacco to reach the elite status he so greatly desires. Until then, however, you have to leave Joe Flacco out of every conversation of the “elite”.
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