One of the most criticized quarterbacks in the NFL is and has been Joe Flacco. While the Ravens have done nothing but win since he came to town, he’s never been able to take the Ravens all the way to the top — until now.
An accurate parallel for Flacco would be New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was in Flacco’s exact situation back in 2008. After coming into the league in 2004, Manning wasn’t a bad quarterback, but he could never take the Giants all the way to the top, and constantly fell short of fully becoming an elite quarterback.
Even today, after two Super Bowls in five years, Manning is often criticized for not being elite enough in New York. A lot of that has to do with how crazy New Yorkers are, but in Flacco’s case, the argument is still relevant.
It took Manning two Super Bowls to buck the “he’s not elite” critique, but the question is can Flacco do so with just one?
We’ve seen what Super Bowl success has done for Manning’s career, and logic would suggest that winning Super Bowl XLVII would do the same for Flacco. It’s hard to accept we were wrong about a guy we thought we had pegged down, but that seems to be the case here with Flacco. It wasn’t a defensive struggle that got the Ravens to the Super Bowl. It wasn’t Ray Lewis forcing game winning fumbles or Ed Reed returning interceptions for touchdowns.
It was Joe Flacco throwing to receivers other teams didn’t want, scoring touchdowns other teams couldn’t stop.
The general consensus was that while this has been a cute ride for the Ravens up to last Sunday, Tom Brady and the Patriots would take care of business and that would be that. But It was Flacco, not Lewis or Reed, that lead the Ravens up and down the field and it was Flacco that cut the rope on the patriots and watched as his Ravens soared to the Super Bowl.
It’s a thin line that Flacco is currently walking. On the one hand, if the Ravens win the Super Bowl it will be in large part because of him. We will be forced to accept him as an elite quarterback and he’ll have finally bucked most of his critics.
But if he loses the Super Bowl, everything he did in the playoffs will be washed away and he’ll be considered no different than Matt Schaub.
This is what the Super Bowl is all about — it creates legacies, but it can also crush you. It’s extremely hard to root against Joe Flacco, but there comes a time when one must stop being patted on the back and actually perform.
It’s a metaphor, but Joe Flacco will either spread his wings and fly after the Super Bowl or his wings will once again be clipped right before our eyes.