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.
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.
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.