I recently chatted with Aaron Schatz, the editor-in-chief of Football Outsiders, for an upcoming story that has little, if anything, to do with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. But after we were done chatting about whatever it was that we were talking about -- you'll find out in a few days -- Schatz wanted to get a point in about Flacco.
Earlier in the conversation, I had casually mentioned that most people believe that Flacco is above average.
"I don't think it's accepted as conventional wisdom that he is above average," Schatz later said, circling back to my comment. "Part of the problem with Flacco is a general problem that is 'the star or else' problem. If they aren't seen as superlative, that they must be awful. Average fans have a very hard time thinking of players in terms of average, above average and below average. They tend to group players in terms of great or horrible."
Schatz believes "there is a lot of value" in having an above-average quarterback like Flacco -- and yes, he feels that Flacco should be considered as such -- even if that player never becomes a truly elite quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Why?
"Because it means you don't have Matt Moore," he said. "This was a problem with Jason Campbell for a long time. … Campbell was average but everyone wanted to get rid of him. Then the Redskins ended up with Rex Grossman. Baltimore fans who don't like Flacco should ask themselves what they would be getting instead."
Flacco threw for 3,610 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011. But he had career highs in interceptions (12) and fumbles (nine). Metrics from Football Outsiders say that Flacco was, at worst, average last season, and Schatz believes that Flacco declined last year. Still, he believes it was just a bump on the road for the 27-year-old.
"You have to think he'll bounce back from last year," Schatz said.