Joe Flacco Is Elite By Association…The Tom Brady Comparison

One of the most polarizing things in all of sports over the past couple of years has been the use of the word “elite” as it pertains to NFL quarterbacks, namely Eli Manning and Joe Flacco.

It was August 2011 and Manning was being interviewed on ESPN New York 1050 by Michael Kay, “Is Eli Manning an elite quarterback? Are you a top-five, top-ten quarterback?” is what Kay asked Manning.

Eli Manning

You can’t spell elite without Eli.

Manning answered, “Yeah, I think I am.”, and it created quite the furor among both fans and the media. Eli’s eliteness was debated ad-nauseum for much of the 2011 season — a season that ended with Peyton’s little brother hoisting not only the Lombardi Trophy but also the Pete Rozelle Trophy as Super Bowl XLVI MVP.

Then approximately nine months after Manning was asked if he was elite, Flacco was posed pretty much the same question when Drew Forrester of WSNT.NET said, “Here’s the $100 million dollar question.  So your agent Joe Linta says, “if winning matters Joe Flacco is one of the top-five quarterbacks in the NFL.”, Forrester then asked, ” So I say to you Joe Flacco, Is Joe Flacco one of the top-five quarterbacks in the NFL? (Skip to 15:17)” Unlike Kay, Forrester didn’t exactly use the word elite, but when Flacco responded by saying, “Without a doubt. What do you expect me to say?”, you just knew that a fan and media frenzy about the topic would ensue. Flacco then clarified what he meant by saying, “I would assume everybody thinks they’re a top-five quarterback. I mean I think I’m the best.  I don’t think I’m top-five, I mean I think I’m the best. I mean I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way.”  It didn’t take long for fans and the media to once again end up consumed in a debate about a quarterback’s eliteness.  A debate that still rages on, fueled by the fire of Flacco’s terrific postseason run — a run that ended with Flacco hoisting both the Lombardi and Pete Rozelle Trophies, just like Manning did one year prior.

With the debate about Flacco being elite or not still raging on it seemed that finding a barometer to see if Flacco measures up on the elite scale would be the wise thing to do.  It probably seems crazy to use Tom Brady — a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer — as that barometer, but comparing what Brady accomplished in his first five seasons as a starter (his entire body of work wouldn’t be a fair comparison) should prove to be a very good way to gauge if Flacco is indeed elite.  That means for the sake of comparison Brady’s seasons from 2001-2005 (14 games started in 2001) will be utilized, and for Flacco it will be 2008-2012.

Tom Brady

Brady’s playoff record from ’06-’12 is 7-6 with no SB wins

At this point you are probably retracing Brady’s career to try to figure out if he was considered elite after just five years as a starter. He was.  Look no further than the July 2006 USA TODAY article, “Among NFL QBs, Brady at head of the class“, where Tom Weir wrote, “It also finally proved Brady can be mortal on a huge stage but did absolutely nothing to diminish his status as the NFL’s most esteemed quarterback. Our panel of experts made Brady a unanimous selection as the game’s best at directing an offense.”  Click to continue reading.

Follow me on twitter,@SteveGalloNFL & if you have any questions please feel free to email me at gallo@thehuddle.com

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About Steve Gallo
Steve is an NFL Analyst and IDP writer for USA Today Sports Media Group(TheHuddle.com). He is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America & Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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