When the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco with their first overall pick in the 2008 Draft, many fans and pundits didn’t know how the Delaware standout would fare in the NFL, seeing as how he never regularly competed against FBS teams in college.
In his rookie year, the Ravens were able to make it to the 2008 AFC Championship game, but were stopped short due to a pick-six by Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu. Many Ravens fans left that game with high hopes after their rookie QB was one game away from the Super Bowl, and for the time being, gave fans relief that somebody could finally take up the mantle that Johnny Unitas left behind. However, as much as Joe Flacco was the reason why the Ravens have been one of the more consistent teams of the last decade, he’s now the reason why the Ravens can’t move forward.
The old Joe Flacco was bad too. People thought he was "good" because of one playoff run. https://t.co/yQM3zrMggF
— Robert Zeglinski (@RobertZeglinski) October 19, 2017
Since the Super Bowl win at the beginning 2013, the Ravens are just 34-36. On the other hand, they were a combined 54-26 from 2008 – 2012. During this period, Flacco was allowed to just play his position, while Ray Lewis and Ed Reed rallied the troops year in and year out.
Now that the two future Hall of Famers have since retired, it was expected that Flacco would take his place next to the great Ravens players of old. “Joe Cool” was consistently praised for his neutral temperament in crucial situations over the years, but now this lack of emotion and capacity to make players better around him is going to make his once promising career a bright blip in Ravens quarterback history.
Joe Flacco in 2017 (6.5 games):
4 TDs, 8 INTs, 1,069 yards.
Flacco is making $24.5 million this year. #Ravens
— Tyler Steege (@TSteegeNFL) October 22, 2017
After the 2012 season, the Ravens awarded Joe Flacco with a six-year, $120 million contract extension, making him, at that time, the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. This wouldn’t have been an issue if Flacco continued his production from the end of 2012, going into 2013.
However, with his recent play as of late, the contract has to come back into the conversation. True elite quarterbacks are able to help develop wide receivers by working with them on practicing their routes, developing chemistry, and gaining a rapport with their receivers so that they then know how to come back and help out their quarterback. Relationships are incredibly important in sports, and if the supposed “captain” doesn’t want to embrace that role, it’s hard to have an effective unit.
Flacco appears to be a quarterback that needs to have first-round talent in order to succeed, but due to what his contract takes up in the salary cap, the Ravens weren’t able to hold on to Torrey Smith, Ricky Wagner, or Kelechi Osemele.
The Ravens have the highest payroll for starting quarterbacks in the NFL at $24 million, but when you look at your championship caliber teams quarterback salaries for this year, it becomes even more glaring: Falcons – $23 million, Steelers – $18.2 million, Raiders – $15.7 million, Patriots – $14 million.
The likely comparison to the Atlanta Falcons is that Matt Ryan actually won an MVP award, has averaged over 4,500 yards per season, made four Pro Bowls, and has played better in latter part of his career than Joe Flacco.
The one thing people forget about team sports is that it’s a collective effort that wins games, not an individual player, and a quarterback is only as good as the talent around him. In the age of the salary cap in the NFL, money is a finite source, and the Ravens appear to have not put their money on the right horse.
Photo Credit: Russell Street Report