Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Time to end the Joe Flacco 'elite' discussion



Every year at this time the same debate begins. Is whoever the winning quarterback of the Super Bowl now elite? This year, that debate goes on about Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco had a great postseason as the Ravens beat Indianapolis, Denver, New England and San Francisco to win the league championship. Does one great offseason make you elite?

According to dictionary.com, elite is 1. The choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons.

Is Joe Flacco the best quarterback in the league? Flacco would have to be considered the best of the group (quarterbacks). No one outside of Maryland is going to pick Flacco over Brees, Manning, Rodgers or Brady. Is Flacco in the conversation? Depends on who you ask. The Super Bowl ring automatically puts him in the conversation in some circles. To others, overall body of work makes you elite. The Greg One is of the second school of thought. Having a Super Bowl ring does not all of a sudden make you an elite quarterback. To those of you who do believe it does. I submit one name.

Trent Dilfer.

Any questions?

Ironically, or perhaps not, Dilfer is another Ravens quarterback who rode the Ravens #1 ranked defense to a Super Bowl XXXV win. Anyone consider Dilfer elite? No. And he never will be considered elite. Dilfer did not win MVP in that Super Bowl, Ray Lewis did. If you want to make that point, i’ll give you two more names.

Mark Rypien. Doug Williams.

Both won Super Bowl MVP for quarterbacking the Washington Redskins to wins in Super Bowl XXII and XXVI, respectively. Does history recognize either as elite? No. Until Flacco can show he’s not a one hit wonder by getting his team to more than one Super Bowl or consistently in the championship game he won’t be considered elite. Top ten? Yes. On the verge of elite here at the end of his fifth season as a pro? Yes. Flacco is definitely not there yet. The Ravens lost four of five games heading into the playoffs this season. The Ravens got healthy at the most critical time and rode a wave of momentum to the championship.

For the sake of argument, if you put up Flacco’s five year career up against Philip Rivers last five seasons Rivers has better stats than Flacco. Rivers has more yards, touchdowns, higher completion percentage and quarterback rating than Flacco. That makes Rivers more elite than Flacco doesn’t it? The difference is Flacco has a solid offensive line and a consistent running game that has allowed him more time to throw and run the offense than Rivers. Flacco leaves the game with a clean jersey. Rivers has been running for his life the last three seasons because of a shattered offensive line and non-existent running game. Even with the debacle the last three seasons have been in San Diego, Rivers has outperformed Flacco. Flacco gets the final nod this season because he has the ring.

The Ravens offense has been more run-centric with the electrifying Ray Rice in the backfield. Those flare screens still show up in Flacco’s stat line, however. Now the offense of the Ravens is becoming more pass happy with Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta coming into their own. The Chargers were one play from beating Flacco’s Ravens this past season until the dreaded 4th and 29 conversion by Ray Rice saved the game for the Ravens. Both quarterbacks are excellent deep ball passers with pinpoint accuracy. Both have proven themselves as tough, durable and own the respect of their teammates. In Baltimore it has always been seen as Ray Lewis’ team. With Lewis’ retirement, will Flacco step up as the team leader? Rivers has been the one constant, the one unquestioned leader since he became starter.

So who’s better?

Flacco has the ring but Rivers is every bit as good if not better at this point. Rivers has better stats, more pro bowls and more division championships than Flacco. Flacco has a more solid team top to bottom led by what is consistently one of the best defenses and a top 5 running back every season. The next five year to seven years will tell the tale of these quarterbacks. Both are in the prime of their careers Time to end the elite conversation because neither are there yet. Don’t be surprised to see these to in the AFC championship more than once in that time span.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco San Diego Chargers

  • LJ Spivak

    For the record, Flacco’s been to the AFC Championship in 3 of the 5 years he’s been in the league. He hasn’t played Rivers and the Chargers once in those games.

    • veazy

      Fair enough, but that makes him elite?

      • arnie

        i don’t know, but ask the HOF QB’s like Warren Moon or Dan Marino if they are. these two guys are the measure in which football “experts” measure all other QB’s. Yet there is an asterix next to their names. meaning *(no rings).

        is Flacco Elite? depends on the criteria you want to use as a measure.
        so until we can agree on one. he’s still a Superbowl Champion. unlike Phillip (yet).

  • nate

    he deserves to be called elite. look what hes done

  • Mike

    This writer sounds full of excuses to me for Rivers. A Super Bowl win is the only thing that’s important. Who cares to compare stat lines at this point for the regular season? Football is a team sport no matter which QB we are talking about. Some teams and management simply do a better job of fielding a good overall team like the Ravens, some like the Chargers don’t (yet). If you really want to compare stat lines, lets look at the playoffs – when it counts. How many TD’s has Rivers thrown in the playoffs again? How many wins? Did he tie Montana for most TD’s with no interceptions? No, that was Flacco.

    • laboyzz

      Notice he ignored the fact that rivers had Ladanian, Gates, and vjax, plus a great online and D for years and choked repeatedly

  • arnie

    Finally someone is starting to get it. Elite is not a label i throw around lightly, but i think it’s been abused, without a firm grasp on “what” that is. As long as the football community, cannot agree on what makes a QB Elite, that label is just a cheap cliché.
    …”According to dictionary.com, elite is 1. The choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons”…
    Again, by that definition, if it’s a classification of rings, then Trent Dilfer “IS IN” the discussion, an a guy like Marino is out. Isn’t the Super winners considered the best of football? After all, not every QB has one. isn’t that an “elite” class of players? if you want to go the numbers route/ body of work, then the group gets a bit larger. and that kind of detracts from the definition of elite. Kenny Anderson, Dan Marino, Dan fouts, Boomer Esiason, Warren Moon, Donovan McNab, Steve McNair, Jim Kelly, Joe Thiesmann, Fran Tarkenton, Bob Griese……the list goes on. Most of these QB’s have three things in common. great bodies of work. HOF (most), and no rings. yet in some circles, they are mentioned as elite. with an asterix*.

  • LJ Spivak

    Don’t know when Rivers will do it, but Flacco’s been in the AFC Championship game three times in his five seasons, and probably has a few more ahead of him. But Rivers has certainly been a good QB. So no, I won’t be the least bit surprised to see either one in the AFC Championship game.

  • LJ Spivak

    Somehow, ten years from now, after Flacco’s been to the AFC Championship game another six times, and another two Super Bowls (extrapolating from his record so far), I suspect we’ll still be having this fool conversation. And people will still be saying he’s not really elite, because he hasn’t put up spectacular fantasy numbers and he’s always had such good teams around him that you can’t attribute the Ravens’ success to Flacco. Poor Joe! He’s been cursed to have been drafted by one of the best front offices in the league and to being consistently supplied with good defenses, weapons and a running game. Plus he’s just got no fire in him…