The Plays That Got Flacco PaidPosted: February 12, 2013
As we all know Joe Flacco had a great playoff run to help the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl. The 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions had only happened one other time in history, some guy named Joe Montana also accomplished this feat. As soon as the purple confetti started falling on the field at the Superdome, Flacco was a free agent. (Technically, free agency doesn’t start until March 12th, but for the sake of drama we will go with what I said in the previous sentence.) The Ravens tried to extend Flacco at the beginning of the season with a long-term $15-$16 million dollar a year deal, but Flacco and his agent turned that bad boy down. They apparently thought that Flacco could somehow play his way into more money. His agent and he will tell you that he did play himself into a bigger contract. I am here to tell you it wasn’t Flacco who played himself into a big contract, but it was a few other players who made Flacco the money.
If we go through each game of the playoff run of the Baltimore Ravens, there were significant plays where individuals of the other team failed to do their job and it ended up being the turning point of the game. Sure, Flacco didn’t turn the ball over and threw almost three touchdowns a game in the playoffs, but he wasn’t dynamic and wasn’t the reason the Ravens were winning.
The Wild Card Round
The Indianapolis Colts came into Baltimore with a rookie quarterback named Andrew Luck and his inexperience showed. The Ravens ended up winning this game 24-9 and Flacco played decent, but he wasn’t the difference. The Colts moved the ball easily between the 20′s, but failed to punch it in for a touchdown on any drive. Luck was miserable in the redzone. He overthrew many of his receivers and the lack of touchdowns proved to be the difference in the game. An interception and lost a fumble by Luck proved costly. Another key play was an Adam Vinatieri missed field goal that would have made it 17-12 and put a lot of pressure on the Ravens in the fourth quarter. Luck threw his interception in the redzone costing the Colts even more points. Flacco wasn’t exactly the difference in the game, although he managed it well, not exactly a $20 million a year performance.
The Divisional Round
This was supposed to be a slaughter by the Denver Broncos, but it didn’t turn out that way. Flacco again wasn’t great, coupling the Wild Card game with this one he slightly raised his completion percentage to 52.6. His three touchdown passes should have all been intercepted or at the minimum knocked down. The plays which really turned the table for the Ravens were fails by players on the Broncos. An early interception thrown by Peyton Manning got returned for a TD. The “great” throws Flacco made would have been incomplete, if Champ Bailey just puts up a hand against Torrey Smith, there goes two touchdowns off the board. The game tying touchdown which was a 70 yard pass to Jacoby Jones. Yes, it was Flacco who threw it and makes him the hero, except that pass gets intercepted 80% of the time and knocked down the other 19.9% of the time. Denver safety, Rahim Moore had the worst technique and route to a ball that anyone has seen in the NFL in a really long time. In overtime, Flacco didn’t move the ball at all for the Ravens. However, Manning threw an interception in Broncos’ territory and after a few Ray Rice carries, Justin Tucker hits the game winning field goal. Flacco, again, not really the reason the Ravens prevailed.
The AFC Championship
This game was about the New England Patriots having injuries and blowing opportunities more than it was Joe Flacco throwing all over the place. New England lost two defensive backs early in the first half when Patrick Chung and Aqib Talib both got hurt. Stevan Ridley went out early in the fourth quarter after being knocked out. There were two big Wes Welker drops which would have put the Pats in scoring position, both most likely would have generated points for New England. Aaron Hernandez didn’t go out-of-bounds late in the second quarter to save a timeout, which ended up costing the Patriots a shot at a touchdown. They instead settled for a field goal and a 13-7 lead instead of a 17-7 lead. It doesn’t seem like much, but two scores is a lot more to make up than just one. Two uncharacteristic interceptions, one on a tipped pass, by Tom Brady also helped the Ravens seal the deal. Flacco, again, was barely above 50% on completions.
The Super Bowl
This game was Flacco’s best, I will give him that. The San Francisco 49ers not executing was more of the story than it was Flacco leading the Ravens to victory, despite the MVP award being given to him. The first drive of the game the 49ers had to settle for a field goal after Colin Kaepernick missed a wide open Michael Crabtree in the endzone. In a game that ended as a three-point game, missing out on four points is kind of a big deal. LaMichael James fumbled trying to hard to make something out of nothing, which killed another drive the 49ers were in scoring range. Randy Moss completely gave up on a pass that looked like he could have at least got a hand on it. That pass went right into the hands of Ed Reed and set up more points for the Ravens. The two biggest plays of the game were the blown coverage by Chris Culliver and Donte Whitner on Jacoby Jones and the opening kickoff of the second half that allowed the Ravens to build a big enough lead to hold on for the win. The Jones’ 56 yard touchdown catch (which Flacco under-threw) and his 108 yard kickoff return were the difference in the game. Flacco may have got the MVP for the Super Bowl, but Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones probably deserved it more than him.
These four games in which Joe Flacco played well, but not necessarily great are going to get him paid more than almost any other quarterback in the league. This is an extremely small sample size to judge how good a quarterback really is. Look at his season as a whole. Flacco was 19th in completion percentage, 15th in yards per game, 12th in QBR, and 15th in TDs. Seems like a pretty average quarterback to me. Sure, you could argue he is better than average, but elite? No. Paying an above average quarterback, Drew Brees money is ridiculous. Might as well throw Andy Dalton the same amount of money, because they are essentially the same quarterback.
I will throw a few quarterbacks out and you tell me when you would take Flacco over that quarterback. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, RGIII, Ben Rothlisberger, Tony Romo or Matt Schaub. How far did you make it? The point is $20 million a season is a huge dent toward the salary cap. Would you want your team spending that much money on Joe Flacco?