I was going to post that, and only that, on Monday following the Ravens’ 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Usually, the Reality Assessment is an opportunity of reflection regarding the previous week’s game. The knee-jerk, emotional, quick responses have time to subside, and there is time to zero in on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This team has a whole lot of ugly. The issues that have plagued the team since the preseason are still plaguing the team: a horrific ability to run the football, deplorable offensive line play, secondary meltdowns, idiotic penalties, a defense who can’t get off the field in key situations, and a lack of a true team identity. There is no sense in rehashing what has been hashed, and hashed, and hashed endlessly since August.
Unfortunately, the Cleveland game illuminated a new, while also old, issue. Up until this game, quarterback Joe Flacco was not a primary cause of the Ravens’ issues. He was against Cleveland. His inaccuracy caused missed opportunities and failed drives, and it took points off the board. His throws were either high, behind, late, or all of the above.
This has led to people again questioning Joe Flacco’s leadership ability, and it has drudged up the whole “elite” debate. Really? Why, oh why, have we returned to this?
Newsflash—there is no such thing as an elite quarterback. A quarterback needs others around him to be successful in order for the quarterback, and the team, to be successful. Football is the ultimate team sport.
Want proof there is no sure-thing as an “elite” quarterback? Here is a rundown and quick analysis of the so-called “elite” quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning: He is dominant, and one of the greatest to ever play the position. Yet Jim Irsay, in his inopportune crassness, was correct. The Colts should have won more with Manning. Why didn’t they? They never had a defense that matched the offense. The Colts-version Manning needed a defense. I predict the Broncos-version Manning will need a run game to get to the promise land.
Aaron Rodgers: He is awesome, no doubt. Many people forget that the Rodgers-led Packer championship was very similar to last year’s Ravens. A team that squeaked into the playoffs, got hot at the right time, and won the whole thing. The following two years’ Packers were very, very good. But, they lacked a run game and defense, which led to their demise.
Tom Brady: When Mr. Brady won all of those championships, people loved to point out how he did it with “no-name” receivers. Very true. He also did it with a veteran-laced defense that ran a complex scheme that suffocated opponents. Once Brady had big-time receiving weapons, he produced greater stats and won more regular season games, but Flacco has won more championships than Brady and the Patriots. Oh, and this year, how much has he “raised the level of play of his teammates around him?” Yeah, exactly…
Drew Brees: He is a bit overrated from where I sit, but he is obviously a great quarterback. But what does Mr. Brees need the most? Brees, the Padawan, needs his Jedi Master, Sean Payton. Without Payton, Brees struggled to win big-time last year. Oh, and the historically bad defense probably didn’t help either. Brees needs others around to be successful too.
I am in no way claiming that Flacco is as good of a quarterback as the players above. My point is that the quarterbacks above don’t have success unless many other pieces are in place. The old adage of the quarterback getting too much of the credit, and too much of the blame is definitely in play when it comes to Flacco, Brady, Brees, or whoever the debate is about.
The Ravens’ problem is not that Flacco can’t raise the play of others around him. Dennis Pitta became a NFL Network Top 100 player. An undrafted rookie wide receiver, Marlon Brown, is becoming a playmaker. Tandon Doss is actually serviceable!
The Ravens issue is that they are a flawed team on many levels, at the moment.
However, the Ravens could be in a worse situation. They could have this week’s opponent’s quarterback, Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals. He is surrounded by playmakers galore and has a stifling defense on the other side of the ball, and yet he is a pick six waiting to happen.
Flacco isn’t the issue, and the Ravens would be much worse off without him.