Believe it or not, Joe Flacco joined select company in 2013, doing something that all-time greats such as John Elway, Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning all did at least once in their career. Heck, even the great Johnny Unitas pulled it off, but Flacco will have to do it a few more times to match him.
That’s right, with three interceptions last weekend, the Ravens quarterback joined the 20-interception club.
No word on whether he gets a snazzy membership jacket or anything like that.
This, of course, is not something that Flacco strived for. He had been one of the NFL’s most careful quarterbacks, never throwing more than 12 interceptions in a season before uncharacteristically chucking 22 of them in 2013.
Still, Flacco said in the days leading up to the season-ending loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that being so close to 20 interceptions wouldn’t deter him from playing his game. Flacco’s take was that while he hates throwing interceptions, he knew he couldn’t go back and undo the ones he tossed during the season, so what was the point of dwelling on them?
That is what the offseason is for, and Flacco won’t be the only NFL quarterback doing it this summer while hitting the links or snoozing on a beach somewhere.
Four others threw 20 or more interceptions this season. Only one of them, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (20 interceptions), is playing in the postseason. The others are Eli Manning of the New York Giants (27 interceptions), Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals (22) and Geno Smith of the New York Jets (21).
In the previous five seasons, there have been 11 instances of quarterbacks throwing 20 or more interceptions.
Some, such as Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, bounced back in future seasons. Eli Manning led the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2011, the year after he led the NFL with 25 interceptions.
Others, such as Mark Sanchez, Rex Grossman and Josh Freeman, never really recovered and will likely spend the rest of their NFL careers holding clipboards.
I feel comfortable saying that we shouldn’t expect that kind of career decline from the unflappable Flacco, but I guess you never know how someone will respond.
Still, Peyton Manning twice topped 20 interceptions while developing into the record-setting quarterback he is today. Elway did it once and won a couple of Super Bowls a decade later. Marino did it four times. Unitas did it five times. And Favre did it six times (no wonder the gunslinger is the NFL’s all-time leader in interceptions).
I’m not saying Flacco is a Hall-of-Famer, but some of the best to ever play his position endured rocky seasons, too. So while this was a lost season for Flacco with his 22 interceptions, it could just be an anomaly.