The Curious Case of Joe

The end of the era of Joe Flacco in Baltimore got me thinking about franchise QBs and more specifically drafts. I remember the ’08 draft pretty well because at the time I was obsessed with the PS2 game: Head Coach. The graphics were terrible, but I loved being the Head Coach of a franchise, making all the tough decisions but having the actual game out of your hands. The first pick that year belonged to the Miami Dolphins who believed in Chad Pennington enough to forego a QB and draft Jake Long, the Tackle, from Michigan. At the time, this was shocking. There were certainly valid questions about the two top QB prospects, but the traditional thinking always was if you could get your QB, you get him. Joe Flacco was an unknown until the combine. He was the Quarterback for Delaware and had put up solid numbers after transferring from Pitt. The problem most scouts had was that Flacco wasn’t used to the routine NFL drop back since Delaware mainly played out of the shotgun formation. He had the physical skills that GMs dream of but lacked the fundamentals to back it up. To some, he was the next Ben Roethlisberger but with an even better arm, but to many he was another bust and unworthy of a first rounder. NFL.com compared him to Derek Anderson, who at the time was coming off a 10-5 season with the Browns where he threw 29 TDs and 19 Interceptions. Matt Ryan was the safer pick, Matt was the field general for Boston College and set multiple records. The main concern with Ryan was his arm strength which was far from elite. NFL.com compared him to Matt Schaub, which was hardly a compliment at the time. The Falcons took Ryan with the third pick and the Ravens traded down. The Ravens traded back up a few picks to land number 18, where they took Joe Flacco. So, what qualifies a guy as a franchise QB. Requiring a Super Bowl seems too much, as less than 35 have achieved this. The same argument would apply to an MVP award. The Pro Bowl is too easy because of all the players who drop out. My personal estimation isn’t a very scientific one, but basically a franchise QB is a QB who has a streak of 7-10 years where they have the team competitive and are never in danger of losing their starting spot. Many would say that’s too lenient, but they can write their own blogs. Flacco started 163 games for the Ravens and finished with a record of 96-67. Flacco benefited from having a strong team around him and reached the Playoffs in each of his first five seasons. In these 5 seasons, Joe threw for an approximate average of 3,500 yards and 21 TDs with 11 Interceptions. In 2012, The Ravens finished the season with the magical Super Bowl run to complete the unbelievable career of Ray Lewis. The following year Flacco took a step back throwing 22 Interceptions and the team finished 8-8. He would bounce back in 2014, but that would be the Ravens last playoff appearance of his tenure. Joe Flacco is a strange case because his first 5 years he seemed well on his way to establishing himself as a great QB. The next six years were mostly pretty rough and of course ended with him being benched in favor of a rookie and then traded for a mid-round draft pick. The Ravens may have made the right choice in selecting Flacco, but I don’t think he did enough for us to give him the label of “Franchise Quarterback,” and don’t even get me started on “elite”.

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