Again, fun gus I don't really have a problem if you think Flacco is better than Ryan. IMO, the gap between the two isn't big. I gave Ryan a 7.53 grade in my ratings
, and Flacco a 7.24. Not a huge difference.
There are plenty of reasons why I don't think someone is crazy to think that Flacco is better. Two of the main reasons I think people think that is (1) Flacco's arm is significantly better many think it's the best in the league, while Ryan would barely be in the Top 20 on most lists and (2) because of that bigger arm, Flacco plays with a larger set of cajones than Ryan does. Meaning he's much more willing to make the tough throws into the smaller windows, making him much more capable to generate the big plays.
Did he showcase those skills in those playoff games? Yep. Despite only completing a total of 20 passes vs. Miami and Tennessee in his first 2 playoff games, 5 of those passes were completions of 20+ yards. Did those plays help the Ravens win? Yeah.
Compared to Ryan, who has completed a total of 70 passes in his 3 playoff losses, the same amount were 20+ yard completions.
Let's make this a completely unfair comparison. Let's only compare Flacco's performance in the 3 playoff games he won (vs. MIA & TEN in '08, & NE in '09) vs. Ryan's 3 losses. Combined numbers are:
Flacco - 24 of 55 (43.6%) for 330 yards (6.0 avg), 1 TD, 1 INT, 61.9 rating
Ryan - 70 of 110 (63.6%) for 584 yards (5.3 avg), 3 TDs, 4 INT, 71.2 rating
Forget the yards, TDs, and INTs that people always focus on. There's only 1 stat that should jump out at you: the attempts
Flacco threw the ball half as much as Ryan did. Why? Very simply, because he didn't have to throw the ball as much to make the Ravens win those games. Remember in 2008-09, your average NFL offense threw the ball around 32 or 33 times a game. Flacco averaged 18 attempts in those 3 wins. That is about 60% of the NFL average in those years.
Basically what that means is that the supporting cast around Flacco is so good that he has to do 60% less than what your average QB would be required to do in a typical NFL game. And in the playoffs where the competition is higher than your typical NFL game, we should expect that a QB would have to do more
than your average guy.
So did Flacco help the Ravens? Sure. Maybe his success throwing the long ball relative to your average NFL QB, was perhaps a 5-10% boost to their chances of winning. But their running game and defense on the other hand gave them like a 80 or 90% boost. So the idea that Flacco was pivotal to helping the Ravens win in the playoffs is a bunch of BS.
Because when I look at the Ravens in the playoffs, in the games where they needed him to come through and play at a high level (vs. Steelers & Colts), he pooped the bed, just like many would say Ryan did in most/all of his playoff performances. And IMO in the games where the Ravens actually won, they didn't need him to come through and play at a high level. They just needed him not to screw up.
It's the same stigma slapped on Dilfer when he was in Baltimore. Hand the ball off to Jamal Lewis, make a couple of key throws, don't make any mistakes, and let our defense handle the rest. This time it was just McGahee/Rice instead of Lewis.
That is basically what any run of the mill starting QB in the NFL is/should be capable of doing, and thus Flacco's performances in those games IMHO are decidedly unspectacular
So the idea that Flacco > Ryan because of his postseason success is a joke because IMO given those same parameters any semi-competent NFL starter could have had the same success if backed by McGahee/Rice's play in those games and that elite defense.
I think Ryan is better because he's smarter, more accurate, more efficient, takes less sacks, makes better decisions, and despite the lack of postseason success is more proven in the clutch than Flacco. Because Ryan has had more opportunities and more success digging the Falcons out of the hole late in games and pulling Ws from his caboose.
The problem is that Ryan is (or was) not so good
that he could dig the Falcons out of those holes in the playoffs against top opponents. The Falcons have an average defense, and thus against AZ & GB they got behind early in those games, and thus their running game was completely neutralized.
Flacco never had to deal with that. Even in the games where their ground attack was stalled (vs. TEN), they still ran the ball on 60% of their plays. In all the Falcons losses, the Falcons had to abandon their running game much earlier than they wanted to and shift the entire burden onto Ryan's shoulders (never had a run share greater than 35%).
The difference between the Ravens winning and the Falcons losing is not measured by the play of the QBs. Frankly, I think Ryan gave much more to teh Falcons than Flacco did to the Ravens when measuring what they were asked to do and what they actually did.
The difference is that the Ravens had a strong ground attack that could compete and contribute for all 4 quarters and an elite
defense that could get stops and create a ton
of turnovers, and the Falcons had a ground attack (its strength is unknown given that they were taken out of the games by halftime) and a defense that rarely got stops and never created turnovers.
So the idea that Flacco > Ryan because of the playoffs really means Flacco > Ryan because he has Ray Lewis & Ed Reed rather than Curtis Lofton & Thomas DeCoud.
And Bill Barnwell's point is that the notion that the Phil Simms of the world spew: "Flacco is good because he is a winner" is a myth. Flacco might be good, but the main reason he wins has little to do with how good he is, but mostly to do with how good the guys on defense are.