Late For Work 1/19: Flacco One Of The Most Underappreciated QBs Of Modern Era

A method to the madness, this isn’t just coach speak, the best is still to come for Webb.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, January 19th, 2012 at 9:22 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Flacco One Of The Most Underappreciated QBs Of Modern Era

If he can pull off an upset in Foxborough Sunday, Joe Flacco would become the first quarterback to win 50 games as starter in his first four NFL seasons.

Flacco can also tie the Patriots’ Tom Brady for the most playoff wins by a quarterback in their first four NFL seasons. Currently, Flacco is tied with Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner for second with five wins each.

Yet Brady, Roethlisberger and Warner never took the verbal hits from onlookers like the ones Flacco absorbs.

“This isn’t to say he’s perfect,” wrote CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman. “He has flaws and he makes mistakes, but as Flacco prepares to play in another conference title game this is also true: he remains one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks of the modern era.”

Freeman points to all the stats we’ve heard before: postseason berths, AFC championship games, a 5-3 playoff record and a “solid” career passing rating (86).

There’s no arguing Flacco’s a winner.

So the columnist offered a theory for the dichotomy between Flacco’s success and his negative perception.

“Flacco’s biggest problem has nothing to do with Flacco himself and everything to do with being in the same conference as Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.”

The problem has nothing to do with Flacco. An interesting point.

Freeman points out Flacco’s competition in the three times he’s advanced to the playoffs.

He lost to Roethlisberger in the title game in 2008. He beat Brady in the 2009 wild-card round, but Manning knocked him out in the next round. In 2010, Roethlisberger knocked him out again.

And now Flacco battles Brady again Sunday.

“That’s not only nasty [competition," Freeman wrote. "That's just downright lethal."

Freeman goes on to say that the Ravens offense is operating in an "8-track offense" because they still focus on a run-first style of offense, which doesn't fit in with this "era of rigged offense."

"No, Flacco isn't perfect, but he's solid," Freeman wrote. "Damn solid. Certainly more deserving than some of the ridiculous scorn he's receiving now."

Reed: A Method To The Madness

Ed Reed did not speak with reporters yesterday, so there wasn't an opportunity to completely understand where he was coming from when he made his comments about Flacco.

Reed did, however, talk with ESPN's Chris Berman. A snippet of the interview, which will air on Sunday at noon EST, was posted and analysts are trying to read into the little that was offered.

"There's always a method to the madness," Reed told Berman. "My teammates downstairs, I think and know that they understand me as a player and as a teammate. I don't think that they would take anything out of [context.].

“If they do, it’s got to be motivation to prove me wrong. But I don’t think that I offended Joe in any way. I talked to him on the phone last night, I left him a message. He texted me and told me I’m cool. He’s cool about it, you know, no big deal.”

Analysts are keying in on three important points.

First, Joe and Ed are “cool.” Joe Flacco said as much yesterday.

Second is the idea that Reed’s comments were taken out of context. They were. Reed called out his whole team, including the defense, not just Flacco.

“I think you look at Ed Reed, and Ray Lewis especially, and they know this might be their last shot,” said ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. “They won a Super Bowl in 2000 and maybe it’s just getting everyone on edge.

“If you look in full context of what Ed Reed said, he talked about the offensive line, he talked about how he thought he could have played better, even though he had some big plays. So I think it was just a matter of kind of challenging the whole team. Joe Flacco, because he’s the quarterback, and gets a little bit of the attention, that’s why all the attention went there. I don’t think it impacts them in any way negatively, certainly not for this game.”

Third is this idea that there is a method to Reed’s madness.

In Stephen A. Smith’s view, he not only agrees with Reed’s “method,” but he applauds it.

“Let’s call it like it is,” Smith said. “They know their teammate (Flacco) … they’re not saying he’s a scrub. They’re not saying he can’t play. They’re saying exactly the opposite, ‘You can.’”

In the video below, Smith and Bayless further debate Reed’s comments and whether it was good for the team.

Joe, Were You Rattled?

Everybody is talking about the word “rattled.” And everyone has their opinion on whether Flacco really was rattled against the Texans.

Finally somebody asked Flacco what really was going on in his mind when facing the Texans defense.

As always, “Cool Joe” handled the controversy with humor.

“Man, I was terrified out there,” he told the NFL Network with a smile on his face. “They had me going out there, I mean, it was crazy.”

Then, seriously speaking Flacco said: “Hey, I actually felt like I was very in the zone. Like I hit all my guys, I was pretty precise with my passes, and they’re a good defense so they’re going to make some plays.”

As Reed said when he gave his critique, “you never know what somebody else is seeing.”

Well, CBS Sports analyst and Super Bowl XXI MVP Phil Simms saw things very differently.

“I thought he played very well (against Houston), not good, not well, very well,” he said.

This Isn’t Just Coach Speak

Both Brady and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick have been singing Reed’s praises this week.

Brady went as far as to say he doesn’t think Reed has any weaknesses.

“You don’t fool Ed too often,” said Brady. “Every once in a while you see him out of place but it’s very, very rare. When you break the huddle, you find where he’s at and you make sure you’re not lobbing the ball up in his zones, because as you saw in the Houston game, he’s going to go up there and make the plays. He’s just an exceptional player.”

But is this just an attempt to avoid giving the Ravens fodder?

Maybe.

But the sentiments are also genuine.

Take a look at this clip from the Belichick NFL Films documentary that aired earlier this season. It highlights the extensive respect Belichick and Brady have for Reed as they study film.

The Best Is Still To Come For Webb

Some would argue that cornerback Lardarius Webb played at a Pro Bowl level this season.

Webb may agree, but he also says he still hasn’t reached his ceiling.

“No. Lardarius Webb can be better,” Webb told MASN’s Dan Kolko when asked if he’s playing the best football of his career. “I’m telling you this: Lardarius Webb can be way better. I’d hate for ya’ll to see that Webb, but I’m trying to get there, man. It’s still a work in progress.”

And I’m telling you that his confidence is a good thing to see since Webb could find himself matched up this weekend against Wes Welker, the Patriots slot receiver who had the second-most receiving yards in the league this season.

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