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Steve Gregory: Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco celebrates after the Ravens defeated the New England Patriots to win in the NFL AFC Championship football game in Foxborough Reuters

The next two weeks are going to be filled with plenty of storylines.

There’s the brothers Harbaugh squaring off in the Super Bowl, Colin Kaepernick’s stunning rise and Ray Lewis‘ farewell tour, for starters. There’s also going to be a lot of “Is Joe Flacco elite?” navel-gazing going on during the run-up to his first appearance in the NFL’s biggest game. It’s not the first time we’ve had such debates — Eli Manning was the subject of them just last year — and not the first time that people have discussed Flacco’s worth. Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley said in 2011 that the Ravens would never make the Super Bowl with Flacco, a prediction that’s been proven incorrect.

Flacco’s Ravens teammates are pretty uniformly on the pro-Flacco side of the question and one of the guys the Ravens beat on Sunday is convinced as well. Patriots safety Steve Gregory told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star that there wasn’t any debate.

“He is one of the elite quarterbacks,” Gregory said. “I know he gets a lot of flak for not being that type of guy, but he is.”

Mellinger’s article is a thoughtful look at the question of Flacco’s standing and leaves you with a conclusion that’s hard to argue.

Call Flacco elite or almost-elite or anything else you want because the words don’t matter all that much at this stage. What matters is that he’s taken his team to the playoffs in every season he’s played in the NFL and, now, he’s brought them to the Super Bowl. However you define it, those are the results you’re looking for from your quarterback.

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61 Responses to “Steve Gregory: Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback”
  1. KL0313 says: Jan 21, 2013 10:36 AM

    Joe is so elite that the Ravens haven’t offered him a contact extension.

  2. KL0313 says: Jan 21, 2013 10:38 AM

    Joe is so elite that the Ravens haven’t offered him a contract extension.

  3. s1138 says: Jan 21, 2013 10:42 AM

    For football being such a big “team” sport, they sure a re giving Flacco a lot of credit for everything that has gone right for the Ravens this year. I don’t think he had anything to do with holding the Patriots to their lowest points scored this season.

  4. enochmh2 says: Jan 21, 2013 10:42 AM

    Would you take flacco over rodgers,brady or brees? Joe has improved but he’s not there yet

  5. gochargersgo says: Jan 21, 2013 10:43 AM

    Being an “elite” QB is all about playing at the highest level consistently. The keyword being consistently. Putting the team on your back season after season. He doesnt get that status by winning two playoff games. Not saying he cant get there or is not worthy, but that you dont become elite over night because of a victory.

  6. Nofoolnodrool says: Jan 21, 2013 10:44 AM

    Flacco is getting better, but win a Super Bowl or two before we anoint him as elite. Reality s grip slips very quickly in the what have you done in the last five minute society we live in now.

  7. damadgreek says: Jan 21, 2013 10:45 AM

    If you keep saying it—it might be true.

    I mean C’mon.

  8. thebrownswillalwaysloose says: Jan 21, 2013 10:45 AM

    Flacco is elite, and he will continue to prove it with a victory two weeks from now. He’s a champion and don’t you forget it.

  9. bragerber says: Jan 21, 2013 10:47 AM

    Yeah, 3800 yrds passing = elite…why is everyone obsessed with being elite?

  10. djstat says: Jan 21, 2013 10:49 AM

    KL0313 – clearly you are an idiot. They offered him an extension which he turned down. he will be franchised.

    Flacco’s record speaks for itself. His QB Rating is 114 in the playoffs 8 tds 0 ints. He played better then Luck, Manning and Brady. He has played at an elite level. His team is in the super bowl. The rest of you hateers can shut up and look forward to the draft. Baltimore has a super bowl to look forward to.

  11. truthfactory says: Jan 21, 2013 10:51 AM

    Its funny because any QB with any tenure now becomes Elite if they make the Superbowl? If there was a draft that just involved QBs over the next 3 year window, I dont think Flacco is in the top 8. I think most teams would still take Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers, and then there’s the young rookies like Luck, RG3, and Wilson that would probably go before him too, and we still have t gotten to the Eli’s, big ben, and matt ryans either. He’s played well over last few games, but I dont think he’s a top 10 QB

  12. kmartin173 says: Jan 21, 2013 10:54 AM

    Does anybody really care who is “elite”, the rings will speak for themselves.

    It is a team game but to win a SB your QB will have to put together 3-4 high-quality games in a row. There are few QB’s out there capable of that.

  13. magnusthe1st says: Jan 21, 2013 10:55 AM

    The only thing elite about Flacco is his unibrow.

  14. 1grub says: Jan 21, 2013 10:57 AM

    (I’m a Ravens fan)

    Who cares if he is elite or not? He isn’t. But he is very very good, maybe great. If he works on being more and more consistent he will be elite.

    If he was half as bad as everyone thinks, the Ravens wouldn’t have had any of the success they’ve had the last 5 years. If Joe had the talent somebody like, say, Matt Ryan had his numbers would be insane.

  15. 1grub says: Jan 21, 2013 10:59 AM

    Also, say what you want about Joe. But you can’t deny he has the “clutch factor”

  16. rushmatic says: Jan 21, 2013 11:06 AM

    Funny that all the Patriot-related stories are FLOODED with troll Raven (and other) fans, but Raven-related stories–even positive ones–the so-called fans don’t sound off.

  17. ravenator says: Jan 21, 2013 11:08 AM

    Steeler fans are clinging desperately to their snuggies!

  18. capitaloffense says: Jan 21, 2013 11:10 AM

    Elite = Consistently great.

    Flacco is not that. Even a Ravens fan will tell you that. When a QB is elite you know he is going to come out and drop dimes and throw lasers all day and your only hope is to contain them through clock management or outscoring them while getting key stops. You do not know what level of greatness you will get from Joe.

    What you do know is that he will take relatively good care of the ball., he usually will not lose the game for you and he can make a big play or two if you ask for it. He is a good QB on a great team; a piece of a puzzle. And that is ok. He won’t have to be elite to win this Lombardi next week. He can put his ring on his middle finger and flash it every time this question is brought up.

  19. roastbeefsandwich says: Jan 21, 2013 11:22 AM

    Whatever changes that the Ravens made to the O-line has made a huge difference. It seemed like Flacco could watch “Gone with the Wind” in the pocket. He has made some crucial throws when it counts this post season and has protected the ball like no other.

    I wouldn’t call him elite yet, but I’m (sadly) seeing him slowly getting there.

  20. questforthesixthnotthelast2013 says: Jan 21, 2013 11:27 AM

    J. Flacco is a great starting QB. Im sure his coach had a great deal to do with it. I just dont see him beating the niners again. He barely did it a year ago, against an upstart team with new coaching in place.. it will be good to watch though, the 49ers are a better team so id put my money on them, but i dont gamble on something im not a part of.

    Jim H. Is gonna show his bro a few things he picked up from watching his family succeed. In the end i hope i can sweat as much as i did watching them come back from 17 points down.

  21. RoofDude says: Jan 21, 2013 11:28 AM

    Elite = Most overrated word used when taking about QB’s

  22. dv5454 says: Jan 21, 2013 11:33 AM

    If you need to debate if a guy is elite, he isn’t elite. That’s the end of the conversation.

  23. ravensgrl says: Jan 21, 2013 11:39 AM

    gochargersgo says:
    Jan 21, 2013 10:43 AM
    Being an “elite” QB is all about playing at the highest level consistently. The keyword being consistently. Putting the team on your back season after season. He doesnt get that status by winning two playoff games. Not saying he cant get there or is not worthy, but that you dont become elite over night because of a victory.

    He’s won more than 2 playoff games in his career… try 7-4. As for consistency… is that like going to the playoffs every year he’s played?

  24. kmartin173 says: Jan 21, 2013 11:39 AM

    As a Cowboys fan, I can say for sure Flacco has something that Romo sure doesn’t have.

  25. fearthehoody says: Jan 21, 2013 11:39 AM

    Remember, they were talking like Eli Manning was Joe Montana’s and Tom Brady’s miricle baby at this time last year too. Media’s flavor-of-the-month

  26. bobzilla1001 says: Jan 21, 2013 11:40 AM

    Sure, Joe’s elite. Until his next mediocre performance. Eli Manning know all about being elite one game but not so much the next…

  27. henryd3rd says: Jan 21, 2013 11:40 AM

    It took a lot of courage for Flacco to reject the contract that Baltimore offered and now he’ll reap the benefits. Maybe Ozzie and company will franchise him; but I feel they will come to some sort of an arraignment. He’s an elite Quarterback now. If you doubt it ask the Patriots?

  28. gordoom says: Jan 21, 2013 11:44 AM

    In my book there are 2 elite quarter backs. And you must do every single thing on this list to be elite.
    -Consistently perform at the HIGHEST level
    -Play in the Superbowl
    -Win a road playoff game(An elite QB must be able to perform in less then ideal situation’s)
    -Be A HOF QB (Not in five years. Right now)
    There is a difference in playing like a elite QB and being a elite QB. Eli played awful this year and thus is not included. Bree’s has never won a road playoff game. Rodgers needs 5 more years of his current play.

  29. rwpsych16 says: Jan 21, 2013 11:44 AM

    I agree Flacco is not consistent enough to be elite. He is a good QB. However, I would take Brady, Rodgers, both Mannings, Big Ben, Brees, and Ryan ahead of him right now. Even some of the young guys like RG3 and Luck seem to have much more upside. Flacco is Tony Romo with a better team aroud him.

  30. nite2al says: Jan 21, 2013 11:56 AM

    I hate the term elite as well. How can a QB be “elite” on the Ravens?

    Seems all the elite QBs throw the ball 50 times a game and their running game sucks. The Ravens have too good a running game and a decent defense to play that style of football.

    There is no need the chuck the ball around 50 times a game if the rest of the team can support you.

    Under Cam Cameron, Flacco threw a lot of low-percentage completion type passes, unlike Brady who throw 5 yards and hopes the receiver runs the other 5 yards.

    Just look at the games….Compare Brady to Flacco…Brady completes a lot of passes, but are they really that impressive? Flacco throws deepouts and bombs.

    I don’t know about elite, but you play to your system and I think Flacco is doing just fine.

  31. bigdaddydooko says: Jan 21, 2013 12:10 PM

    ravenator says:
    Jan 21, 2013 11:08 AM
    Steeler fans are clinging desperately to their snuggies!

    That’s very clever ravenator. Also as clever as the six or seven times you posted that yesterday. You should enjoy having your favorite team in the super bowl rather than being so concerned with an 8-8 team.

    That being said, I never thought of Joe Flacco as a great quarterback, especially towards the end of this season the way he played. However after seeing what he’s done throughout the playoffs, I have to say he is playing great. If he played this good more often he could be considered elite.

    And on a side note, I’m starting to wish Harbaugh was coaching the steelers instead of Tomlin. Congratulations Ravens, you deserve it.

  32. ham1 says: Jan 21, 2013 12:22 PM

    To even have a discussion on elite QB’s try winning a superbowl first. Even then, just managing a superbowl win whose star could be a great defense would limit that qualification. But win one first. All the rest will take care of itself.

  33. thegreatgabbert says: Jan 21, 2013 12:24 PM

    Ordinary Joe.

  34. ppdoc13 says: Jan 21, 2013 12:29 PM

    The guy who would take Ryan over flacco is a fool. He has one win in the playoffs. Joe has 8 and may get to 9

  35. jrod2go says: Jan 21, 2013 12:29 PM

    The term “elite” when referencing an NFL QB has become commoditized. Eli’s elite, Flacco’s elite, Ryan’s elite, Wilson’s elite…just stop. Can we agree that relatively speaking that to be an NFL QB inherently means, to some degree, that they are elite? The real question is, and one that will be answered by his next contract, is Flacco a top 5 NFL QB? If you consider where he is in his career and where Brady and Manning are at this point given their age you could make an argument.

  36. charliedamon says: Jan 21, 2013 12:30 PM

    Uh, no SB win = no “elite” status..whatever that means anymore.

  37. realfootballfan says: Jan 21, 2013 12:34 PM

    At the least, maybe finally Flacco can definitively be considered better than Ryan who shrunk in a big moment yet again.

    Why Ryan has always been lauded by the media, while Flacco is bagged on is beyond my comprehension.

  38. malvaren18 says: Jan 21, 2013 12:40 PM

    This guy is not Elite, he is Extremely Lucky that is all.

  39. gochargersgo says: Jan 21, 2013 12:47 PM

    @ravensgrl

    Clever. I am fully aware that he has won more playoff games than 2. However, before these past 2 games, no one was willing to call him elite. Now after 2 postseason wins he has morphed into the “elite” category?

    I would attribute Joe’s early career success to his surrounding cast more than himself. He has never passed for 4000 yards after all. I know it is just a statistic, but telling in that they do not rely on Joe as heavily as the other elite QB’s teams do.

  40. sdffa11 says: Jan 21, 2013 1:00 PM

    The only elite QBs are Brady Brees Rodgers & Manning.

    If you need to have a debate if a QB is legit elite, that means he is not.

    Flacco, Big Ben, Eli are in the tier 2 but aren’t there yet because they’re not consistent enough and their defenses contributed more to the Super Bowl appearances

  41. Deb says: Jan 21, 2013 1:19 PM

    The term elite has been bounced around so much it’s lost all meaning. Now people are posting that eliteness depends on Super Bowl victories. Really? So Dan Marino wasn’t elite but Trent Dilfer was? Dilfer would disagree.

    Joe Flacco is a talented quarterback who has developed into an excellent offensive leader. Elite? I don’t know. But he’s certainly better than at least half the QBs in the league and he’s taking his team to the Super Bowl. If I were a Ravens fan, that would be enough for me.

  42. undraftedstar says: Jan 21, 2013 1:34 PM

    I guess Dilfer was elite too. Flacco is good but still not to the ELITE level. Montana,Elway,Marino, those are some of the few names that earned that status and as much as I hate to say it you could throw Brady name in there, Brees.

  43. xtb3 says: Jan 21, 2013 1:56 PM

    Amazing how Flacco immediately greatly impoved as soon as Ravens finally fired O-C Cam Cameron.

  44. jiggy3198 says: Jan 21, 2013 2:19 PM

    Statistically may not put up big numbers but any idiot that says he is lucky is an elite moron. His playoff stats and victories speak for themselves and is better than any qb in the nfl at the current time in the playoffs. He had outplayed all elite qbs in the playoffs and does nothing but win. Don’t you think 30 teams would want to be where the ravens are and they are there because of Joe flacco. So elite smelite… Brady Rogers Ryan manning rg3 luck Wilson and many more are sitting at home watching the ravens in the Super Bowl while joe is the general and leading the troupes to victory

  45. realfootballfan says: Jan 21, 2013 3:02 PM

    Lol, I love the comparisons of “numbers” for Flacco to his peers on flaweed teams that can’t/don’t run the ball. I guess by those standards, Troy Aikman was a slouch despite being outstanding in January, really the only plausible reason he is anywhere near Canton.

    Give me the QB who’s clutch in January, you can keep the guys who put up the videog game stats but choke in the big games (Ryan, Peyton, Rodgers, etc).

  46. CKL says: Jan 21, 2013 3:07 PM

    @ capitaloffense, great post

    As a Pats fans I take my hat off to him. His play in the second half last night was a huge reason the Ravens won. He’s certainly played extremely well in this playoff run. I was never his biggest fan, I admit, but he is improving all the time.

    As others have mentioned “elite” and even “franchise” are so overused. Is the QB good enough to win with, does he take care of the ball, and come through when you need him to? That’s all that matters. My team has an “elite” QB for all the good it did last night. Even TB was a better QB (clutch wise) when he was more of a link in the chain. Now that the Pats are offense-centric, they can’t close games out with any regularity and they get debacled by well rounded squads. It’s a team sport and putting too much of a burden to perform on any one player is a disaster.

  47. itsfootballbaby says: Jan 21, 2013 3:16 PM

    Roger that Jiggy

  48. gomez2u says: Jan 21, 2013 3:18 PM

    Gregory is a JV safety. While Flacco made the share of great throws during the game, Gregory was out of position, like he was all season. His job is to play over the top and take away the throws deep and in the center of the field, Gregory does neither…unless the QB throws the ball right at him.

  49. stairwayto7 says: Jan 21, 2013 3:45 PM

    Win 2 Super Bowls then you MIGHT be elite! Until then do not say ELITE!

  50. nite2al says: Jan 21, 2013 4:09 PM

    Jim Plunkett won 2 SBs…elite HOF

  51. nite2al says: Jan 21, 2013 4:10 PM

    J. Plunkett not elite, not in HOF

  52. dbara43 says: Jan 21, 2013 5:36 PM

    Rodgers, Brees, Brady, P. Manning, E. Manning, Rothliesberger, Wilson, RGIII, Luck. Flacco is the best of the next group, he can win you a title, but he’s not elite.

  53. randallflagg52 says: Jan 21, 2013 6:01 PM

    dbara43 says:
    Jan 21, 2013 5:36 PM
    Rodgers, Brees, Brady, P. Manning, E. Manning, Rothliesberger, Wilson, RGIII, Luck. Flacco is the best of the next group, he can win you a title, but he’s not elite.

    ====================================

    Eli, Ben, Wilson, RG3, and Luck are elite? Luck, Eli and Ben are turnover machines, RG3 won’t last 5 years with his style of play and Wilson only has 1 year under his belt. As of right now I’d take Joe over all those guys.

    Also Brady shouldn’t be considered “elite” because he is captain check down and hasn’t won anything since spy gate.

  54. themage78 says: Jan 21, 2013 6:46 PM

    All I have to say is you were one 4th and 29 play from not making the playoffs. Who got that play off? Ray Rice. He’s elite. Not Joe Flacco. 240 yards yesterday in 36 attempts. He is consistently off target and his receivers adjust well. Welcome Trent Dilfer 2.0.

  55. sampulls says: Jan 21, 2013 8:02 PM

    There are at least 5 QB’s I would take over him. In reality, probably 7 or 8.

  56. daubs17 says: Jan 21, 2013 9:35 PM

    Whats funny is Flacco now went to two straight AFC champ games, including this time advancing to the SB, but the Ravens will get 1/10th the coverage the Jets and Sanchez got for going twice and going 0-2. Sweet media

  57. pleasefirecam says: Jan 21, 2013 11:21 PM

    Flacco > Brady, Ryan, Manning, Rodgers, RGIII, Brees, etc. Flacco has set records Brady and Co could not do in their first five years. He has already tied Eli for the most playoff road wins ever and this is only his 5th season! Flacco has the strongest arm in the nfl and the calmest qb in the pocket. I watched Manning and Brady both look nervous playing at home, while “Joe Cool” lit em up on the road. As of right now, Joe is the most elite qb in the nfl. Next year, it may be someone else, but the facts back Flacco right now. Hate on haters…

  58. deathonwings410 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:46 PM

    Flacco isn’t elite–yet. He’s finally, indisputably cracked the top ten. That said, I don’t know where I’d place him the top ten, but as a Ravens fans, I’d only definitely take Rodgers over him straight up. I think Big Ben is too injury-prone, Brady, P. Manning, are starting to get old, Brees would never survive in the AFC North, Eli is just as inconsistent as Flacco, but he’s like five years older, Matt Ryan is a playoff choker, big game midget, Schaub is a wimp, etc, etc, etc.

  59. lennydpocketqb says: Jan 22, 2013 1:53 PM

    It is funny all this elite talk but facts are this league might have stars and really great players at the position but, no one in the league right now has “elite” status.

    Flacco is a really good quarterback who is going to make mad bank off the Ravens risk to not re-sign him in his final year of his contract.

  60. grant444 says: Jan 22, 2013 2:03 PM

    Elite qbs win Super Bowls – and Flucco won’t win this one. Balty will lose, the Ravens will pay him a ton of $, and this team will never sniff the SB for a LONG time.

  61. anon5121 says: Feb 4, 2013 1:57 AM

    “Sure, Joe’s elite. Until his next mediocre performance. Eli Manning know all about being elite one game but not so much the next…”

    Hmm, I think Rodgers, Brady and Peyton can all say the same thing. Except they seem to say that a lot in the playoffs.

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