Column: What the Flacco?
Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 3, 2013 22:03
The holder of the richest contract in the history of the NFL is now Joe Flacco.
Yes, that Joe Flacco; the one who plays for the Ravens and according to Patriots fans can do nothing but throw deep passes that by chance end up in receivers’ hands.
And yet, this same Joe Flacco continues to outplay demigod Tom Brady in big games. Fascinating.
Over the weekend, Flacco signed a deal with Baltimore that will give him $120.6 million over six years, which comes out to just over $20 million per season.
That’s seriously a lot of money. I read on an ESPN blog that the contract comes out to $168,908 per day of the regular season. So if my math is correct, that’s a hair shy of $2 per second.
Meanwhile, in Foxboro, Brady signed a three-year extension to his contract that’s going to be worth $9 million per year, well shy of “Elite Quarterback” money. All throughout New England, Brady was praised for his willingness to be a “team guy” since taking less money meant the Patriots could go and spend that money elsewhere—like, say, on offensive weapons.
The NFL is a tricky league. A guy could have the regular season of a lifetime, but if he tanks in the postseason, he’s a bum. We have this tendency to rate guys based on postseason performances and we make playoff wins synonymous with a guy’s legacy. Well, if we’re going to carry this notion out to its logical conclusion, the Brady/Flacco contracts look a little differently.
If playoffs are what matters, then it seems to me that at this point in time, that Flacco is worth this big-time coin and Brady just isn’t.
If you told me six months ago that I’d be writing a column like this I’d have said you were nuts. But these numbers are just baffling.
Since Brady first lost in the playoffs to the Broncos back on Jan. 14, 2006, Brady’s numbers in AFC Championship Games or Super Bowls have been at best pedestrian and at worst terrible.
This past season, in the Patriots’ loss to the Ravens, Brady completed 29 passes out of 54 with 320 yards passing, just one touchdown and two interceptions. His QB rating was a mere 62.3.
In the Super Bowl loss to the Giants in February of 2012, Brady was 27/41 with 276 yards passing and two touchdowns to just one interception. This was by far his best game in the streak and while it was good, it was far from excellent.
Back in late January of 2012 when the Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 on a missed Billy Cundiff field goal, Brady was 22/36 with 239 yards, no touchdowns, two picks and a mediocre 57.5 passer rating.
When the Giants beat the Patriots back in the Super Bowl of the infamous 19-1 season—a season in which Brady and the Patriots torched everyone offensively—Brady was 29/48 with 266 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions. It was good, but far from elite.
Then there’s the win over the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game and even though the Patriots won, Brady went 22/33 with 209 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions.
All but one of those five games were losses; he never threw more than 2 touchdowns in any of those games and in three of the five, Brady threw two picks or more. The completions and yardage are there, but for some odd reason, he just can’t throw touchdowns and he keeps throwing picks.
But take a look at how Flacco has done in either AFC Championship Games or Super Bowls. It’s crazy.
Not including the drubbing that Flacco faced back in January of 2009 when the Steelers made the then rookie look like the immature FCS quarterback that he was, Flacco has been exceptional in big playoff games.
In this year’s Super Bowl, Flacco threw 22 completions on 33 attempts with 287 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was a lights-out 124.2.
In this year’s AFC Championship Game against the Patriots, Flacco threw 21/36 with 240 yards, three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 106.2.
In the January 2012 AFC Championship Game, Flacco threw for 22 completions on 36 attempts with 306 yards passing, two touchdowns and just one interception. His passer rating was a 95.4.
Lately, Flacco has been tremendous in big games. In those three contests, he had just one interception, never threw less than two touchdown passes and had at worst a passer rating of 95.4.
Granted, there’s a much smaller sample size as far as Flacco and Brady are concerned, but sheesh, those numbers are staggering.
Give credit to Brady. He keeps playing supremely well in the playoff games leading up to the conference championships and Super Bowls, he’s been amazing in those, and there is no doubt whatsoever about it. But once the stage goes from big to massive, Brady can’t stop throwing to the other team.
Things seem to be turned on their heads. I’m not so sure anymore that Flacco is a dweeby, one dimensional deep ball guy who’s not worth a big contract.
I’m equally unsure that Brady’s pay cut was simply about him being a “team guy.”
Nothing makes sense anymore.
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