Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Flacco not 'elite'
by Jeff Herr,posted Feb 4 2013 10:00AM
We heard it all during the post-game show. Ray Lewis talked about it in his post-game interview as did everybody else. “Joe Flacco is elite.” As if a Super Bowl victory in the ultimate team game really shapes a players skill set differently than any other game does. There’s something to be said for playing well under pressure, but that is a nebulous intangible and in the ultimate moment only matters ever so much.
Just a couple months ago when the Ravens were on a bit of a slide, Baltimore fans were talking about Flacco as if they might prefer the Ravens not to sign him when he becomes a free agent. The man who had led them to the playoffs and a playoff victory every year of his career was deemed as only borderline good enough to be the QB on the team that possibly had one of the most inflated egos in the entire league.
As with most things the media is probably the most to blame for all of this. With the arrival of players like Andrew Luck everyone is anxious to crown the next “elite QB.” And talented teams who have fallen short often blame their lack of such a quarterback as the reason. Since the narrative on Flacco was that he wasn’t an elite QB, fans start to complain.
But now all the Ravens fans are going to be watching their championship parade talking about how much money they will gladly pay their elite quarterback. Fact of the matter is, last night's Super Bowl doesn’t change who Flacco is, doesn’t make him an elite QB, and might be the best news the Chiefs could have hoped for.
First of all, there flat out aren’t that many elite QBs in this league. At any given time there are probably five or less and there’s not one in every draft. What there are more of in the league is franchise quarterbacks and as we saw last night, that’s all that’s necessary to win.
What’s the difference you say? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Elite quarterbacks are a step above your typical franchise guy. An elite QB has the skill-set to take a team on his back. Think Peyton Manning and just about any of his Colts teams, Drew Brees and most of his Saints teams, Aaron Rodgers has the same ability, Tom Brady keeping the Patriots competitive with a revolving cast. Flacco isn’t there.
Consider this, Joe Flacco has never had a defense that has been outside the top 12 in points allowed in a season or top 17 in yards allowed. In Manning’s first six years, the defenses he played with weren’t even close. Manning, Rodgers, Brady and Brees all have career QB ratings that would rank higher than Flacco’s best season. Between Manning, Brady, Rodgers, and Brees they have had 41 seasons as starting QBs and only two seasons in which any of them have completed less than 60% of their passes. Flacco has done that twice in his five as a starter.
Flacco has never passed for more than 3,817 yards in a season or thrown more than 25 touchdowns. The aforementioned “elite” group has only thrown 25 or less touchdowns in five seasons combined. Now, part of that is the offense that Baltimore runs, but if you had an elite quarterback wouldn’t you let him sling a little more than that?
People wouldn’t compare Flacco to any of these superior QBs straight up, but when they try to call Flacco an elite QB, that’s exactly what they’ll be doing. Even after a stellar performance last night Flacco hasn’t reached that level and probably never will. And you know what, none of that matters.
Having an elite QB gives you a better chance to win a Super Bowl. Nobody will debate that. But that’s the same as saying that having a Cy Young winner in baseball gives you a chance to win more games. As saying that me dating Kate Upton is outkicking my coverage by about three football fields. It’s obvious. What doesn’t appear to be as obvious is that an elite QB isn’t necessary and last night just proved it.
Flacco represents the franchise quarterback mold. A step below the “elite,” still good enough to win a Super Bowl, but not good enough to carry a team on his own. When defensive injuries started to catch up with the Ravens this year, the team suffered. Flacco did what he could, but it just wasn’t enough. Look at players like Ben Roethlisberger and and Eli Manning, as well. Their defenses didn’t show up this year and neither player made the playoffs. Yet, between them they’ve won four out of the last eight Super Bowls.
There’s nothing wrong with being a franchise quarterback. Matter of fact, there is an awful lot that is right with being one. It means you’re good enough to win it all and that your team will not have a second thought about putting the ball in your hands with the game on the line. But you’re probably not going to do it alone.
With the first pick in the draft the Chiefs can pick any QB they want. The draft is reportedly low on QB talent, but the only player that’s really missing is an elite QB talent. There is no Luck like there was in 2012. But what we should have more confidence in now is that a player like Luck isn’t necessary. Preferred? Yes. But not necessary.
If the Chiefs are waiting for the next Luck or Manning to come along, then it will be another 30 years before they draft a QB. Fact is, they don’t come around that often and if Andy Reid and John Dorsey are worth the money the Chiefs are paying them, then they will find a way to make the Chiefs competitive enough to never be in this position again.
I couldn’t tell you which one of this years QBs will be a franchise quarterback. If I had to guess I would say it would come from one of the three names we all know: Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson, or Geno Smith. It’s Reid and Dorsey’s job to figure out which one will be that guy and make him a Chief (that is of course if Leon Sandcastle isn’t available).
Point of all this is that there is a major misconception out there about this draft. No elite quarterbacks doesn’t mean that there isn’t any good ones available. The year Matt Ryan and Flacco were drafted most called that QB class “below average.” Those two alone have been to four championship games and have now won a Super bowl.
With the disproportionate importance of quarterbacks in today’s NFL, their value is higher than ever. If you have a chance to get the best QB in the draft and pass it up, it better be for that once-in-a-decade non-QB talent and that simply isn’t there this year either. Players like Luke Joeckel and Jarvis Jones will probably be good players in the NFL, but either of them in a Chiefs uniform makes the team only marginally better.
Anything other than some of the worst quarterback play in the league last year and the Chiefs probably win about four more games in 2012. Better play from their left tackle or outside linebacker nets them next to nothing. Even if he’s the best ever at his position, it might make the difference in one game.
I’ve been beating the drum that the Chiefs should draft a QB #1 overall ever since they secured the pick. I understand that everyone would rather be in last year’s draft when Luck was available, but if we’re playing that game I’d rather be in 1998 when Peyton Manning was available, or in 1983 when John Elway was available. We might be waiting another 15 years for that surefire talent to come out, but that doesn’t mean no talented quarterback will be drafted before then.
Flacco’s performance this season proved what the Chiefs needed to know to make the right pick. Your quarterback doesn’t have to be elite, he just has to be good enough to win. Not every quarterback in the league is,and it will be up to the Chiefs to find the one that is and make him the next Kansas City Chief.
flacco is not elite in the regular season, we saw that in person at arrowhead. but his post season numbers are elite. in five years hes won more playoff games and as many superbowls as the kansas city chiefs have in 50 years. now flacco is not elite but what does that say about our beloved chiefs?