We know we have finally reached the only true downtime of the NFL offseason -- once a period of months that has now shrunk to a few weeks, if that -- when the play of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has become a topic of discussion nationally. Remember the near-nonstop Flacco talk during last year’s lockout? That was brutal.
Thankfully, there hasn’t been too much this spring and summer, which is surprising considering the attention that was paid to Flacco when he said back in April that he has to believe he is the NFL’s best quarterback to be successful at his job. There was lukewarm debate about whether Flacco was a better quarterback than Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, and over the weekend Ravens running back Ray Rice hyped up his buddy.
But as we watch the tumbleweeds bounce by at the end of June, the start of NFL training camps a few weeks away, I knew the lack of criticism wouldn’t last. When I logged onto ESPN.com this morning, I stumbled upon an article by K.C. Joyner about the AFC’s most overrated players. Flacco was the first player he mentioned.
Joyner had a bone to pick with Flacco after the quarterback made those comments to Baltimore radio station WNST in April, and the noted number-cruncher also had stats to back up his criticism.
“Flacco put himself on this list by saying in an April radio interview that he thinks he is the best quarterback in the NFL,” Joyner wrote. “That he isn't the best field general in the league comes as no surprise, but Flacco's 2011 season doesn't even place him in the upper half of the league. His 9.6 vertical yards per attempt mark (VYPA -- which measures success on passes 11-plus yards downfield) ranked tied for 25th, and his 10.7 stretch vertical YPA (SVYPA -- passes over 20 yards downfield) ranked 26th.
“To get an idea of just how bad those totals were, they each ranked dead last or tied for last in the AFC North. That's right, the Browns' passing offense of Colt McCoy and a bunch of underachieving wideouts posted equal or better downfield productivity passing numbers than Flacco did while throwing to a wide receiving corps that included Anquan Boldin and standout rookie Torrey Smith.”
I’m sure Flacco backers -- and maybe his agent, too -- will point to his win-loss record and that Flacco had the Ravens in position to win the AFC title game. And if you prefer to crunch numbers like Joyner -- there's nothing wrong with that -- they won’t compute favorably for Flacco. Flacco was in the middle of the pack last season when it comes to quarterback ratings. Flacco's 80.9 standardized passer rating ranked 18th. His QBR of 57.9 was 15th.
So is Flacco overrated? It depends on who you are arguing with.
But I ranked him 10th in my quarterback rankings on Tuesday, essentially splitting the difference between the Flacco backers and the Flacco bashers. Using my No. 10 ranking, which basically suggests that Flacco is pretty good but not elite, as the benchmark, do you think Flacco is overrated, underrated or rated just right?
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