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It wasn’t that long ago that now two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning was typecast as a meek quarterback not suited to become a star.
Just this past preseason Manning took flack for labeling himself an elite signal caller – not to boast, but just as a matter of fact.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has taken similar criticism. Before the year began, Flacco said “I think I’m a pretty damn good quarterback.”
While Flacco’s season didn’t end as well as Manning’s, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron believes Flacco will also be vindicated in time.
Comparisons are never spot on because each quarterback is unique, but he sees connections that can be drawn between Flacco and Manning.
“I think there are a lot of parallels when you look at where they both were after four years,” Cameron said. “They both have had a reasonable amount of success. We all know the success Joe has had, we all know Joe’s upside. I think people were saying the same thing about Eli.”
Cameron knows Manning pretty well.
He first met him in 1993 at the Manning household when Cameron was trying to recruit older brother Peyton to come play football at the University of Michigan. Eli was a tall, rangy middle-schooler playing video games in the other room.
Cameron followed Eli’s career since then, from his days at Ole Miss, to becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. Cameron would have been Manning’s offensive coordinator had the Chargers not immediately traded him to New York.
Now Cameron sees some of Eli’s personality in Flacco, who was described by Owner Steve Bisciotti as “solid in the Type-B camp.” With a second Super Bowl victory, Manning has proven that quiet leadership can still speak volumes.
“They do have similar leadership styles,” Cameron said. “I just think it shows that whether it’s an NFL quarterback, a head coach, there’s all sorts of leadership. The bottom line is getting the job done your way. I think that’s the most important thing.”
It’s also important to note that just because a quarterback doesn’t win the big game in his first four years, or doesn’t have monstrous statistics, doesn’t mean he won’t get there eventually. Manning won his first title in Year 4.
Here’s a look at Flacco’s stats compared to Manning’s over their first four seasons:
Their similarities go beyond personality, or even stats.
Both Flacco and Manning are big-bodied, big-armed quarterbacks. Flacco is 6-foot-6 while Manning is listed at 6-foot-4. That naturally provides the advantage of being able to see better from the pocket, but also makes maintaining technique more difficult.
They can also each make all the throws a quarterback needs to.
“If a guy can make all the throws that he needs to make, then it’s just a matter of doing it consistently and in the critical situations and continuing to just grow as a player,” Cameron said.
“I think he is going to be extremely successful, and I think he’s going to have rings, and I think he’s got 10 years of his prime to show it,” Bisciotti said last Wednesday in the season-ending press conference. “And I think that he will be rewarded for his personality in the long run, and hopefully our fans will, too.”