Joe Flacco Gets Major Love In Super Bowl MVP Rankings
In less than two weeks, the 51st Super Bowl Most Valuable Player will be named. But will his performance outshine that of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's from four years ago?
That will be pretty hard to do based on ESPN's all-time Super Bowl MVP rankings.
The news outlet says Flacco's out-of-this-world performance in Super Bowl XLVII was the best since the turn of the century. Overall, he ranks No. 8 among all 50 Super Bowl MVPs.
That's some serious praise, seeing as some of the best players of all-time didn't make the top 10, including the Patriots' Tom Brady, Broncos' John Elway, Cowboys' Troy Aikman, Jets' Joe Namath and Colts' Peyton Manning.
Not even Ravens future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis was close. Defenders don't usually get a lot of love compared to offensive stars, but Lewis came in at No. 44 as the leader of perhaps the greatest defense of all-time.
"Only a 34-minute game delay caused by a power outage in the Superdome could slow Flacco during the Ravens' 34-31 victory over San Francisco," wrote Mike Sando. "The 49ers defense finished the 2012 regular season ranked among the NFL's top five in a long list of categories, but Flacco did not seem to notice.
"His three first-half touchdown passes gave Baltimore a 21-6 halftime lead before the power went out early in the third quarter. The 49ers stormed back to make the game close, but Flacco's early brilliance was enough for Baltimore. He finished the day completing 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero INTs. Flacco was 7-of-10 for 158 yards and two scores on third down."
Below is the top-10 list, and you can find all 50 here:
- 49ers QB Joe Montana: Super Bowl XXIV (1989 season)
- Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw: Super Bowl XIII (1978 season)
- 49ers QB Steve Young: Super Bowl XXIX (1994 season)
- Redskins QB Doug Williams: Super Bowl XXII (1987 season)
- 49ers WR Jerry Rice: Super Bowl XXIII (1988 season)
- Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith: Super Bowl XXVIII (1992 season)
- Redskins RB John Riggins: Super Bowl XVII (1982 season)
- Ravens QB Joe Flacco: Super Bowl XLVII (2012 season)
- Broncos RB Terrell Davis: Super Bowl XXXII (1997 season)
- Dolphins RB Larry Csonka: Super Bowl VIII (1973 season)
Flacco Needs Better Supporting Cast To Return To Super Bowl Glory
It's fun to think back to the pinnacle of Flacco's career, especially after one his toughest years in 2016.
It's clear what Flacco is capable of, but the Ravens need to find their path back to realizing that potential.
Coming off major knee surgery and changing offensive coordinators mid-season were contributors to the down year, and there's no doubt that a fully healthy offseason with the new play caller will help. He knows he also needs to improve his technique and chemistry with his targets.
But nothing will help Flacco return to the glory of that Super Bowl XLVII performance (or at least close to it) more than surrounding him with playmakers, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
"It's unrealistic to think he can replicate that playoff run of four years ago, when he threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions," Hensley wrote. "That was a Joe Montana-like performance.
"Flacco isn't going to carry a team and elevate everyone around him. The Ravens need to do a better job of strengthening the supporting cast around him. Flacco remains Baltimore's best barometer for success. When his rating is above 93, the Ravens are 48-10 (.827). When his rating is below that, Baltimore is 35-45 (.437)."
Hensley looked back on the supporting cast of that 2012 season in which running back Ray Rice converted the ridiculous fourth-and-29 in San Diego, wide receiver Jacoby Jones scored the Mile High Miracle touchdown, and tight end Dennis Pitta and receiver Anquan Boldin were consistently there to make plays for Flacco. The defense was led by Lewis, safety Ed Reed and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Flacco could use playmakers like that again.
At the Ravens' season-review press conference, Head Coach John Harbaugh emphasized this exact point. One of the goals of the offseason is to surround Flacco with the best team possible.
"We are going to build a football team around Joe, and Joe is going to be another year removed from the injury. We are going to build an offensive line that is best in the league, and we are going to put a running game together that is going to support the quarterback," Harbaugh said.
"… Joe can get that done, and Joe is going to be better next year. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to be better next year, because he is going to be healthier, because we are going to have an offense in place that we all believe in."
Daaaang! Tucker Boots 75-Yard Field Goal
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker showed off his power in front of league's best players yesterday by kicking a 75-yard field goal in sunny Orlando, Fla., during the first day of Pro Bowl practice.
To put the kick in perspective, the longest field goal in a game is a 64-yard boot by the Broncos' Matt Prater in 2013.
Granted, there were some atypical conditions that helped Tucker. He kicked off a tee with no pass rush bearing down, and, based on the flags on the goalposts, Tucker had a nice wind at his back.
Still, it's pretty darn impressive and there are signs that he could beat his own career long of 61 yards and maybe even set a new NFL record.
"[Y]ou have to figure he can beat Prater's record if given a chance or two in a game that counts," wrote NFL.com's Dan Hanzus. "This ball is from the far 35-yard line. With Justin Tucker, you can score without a drive.
"Somewhere, Brock Osweiler looks up and says, 'Hey, let's get that guy.'"
Juszczyk Was Wronged At Pro Bowl … Twice
Have we gotten to the point where we need to remind the NFL world that "fullbacks are people too"?
That phrase is usually reserved for punters, but fullbacks are a dying breed in the NFL with some teams not using them at all anymore. The position doesn't even get a spot on the Associated Press All-Pro team.
Now, the treatment of Kyle Juszczyk has gotten off to a rocky start at the Pro Bowl. There probably wasn't anyone looking forward more to the dodgeball game than "Juice," but he was snubbed and didn't get an invite.
"I don't want to put any words in anyone's mouth, but this might be the biggest disappointment of the 2017 Pro Bowl," he told my colleague, Garrett Downing. "I think [they were scared]. I think they didn't want to get a scouting report on me."
Well, at least they spelled his name correct on the back of his jersey. Oh, wait …
"Juszczyk waited four years to put on a Pro Bowl jersey for the first time," Hensley wrote. "He just has to wait a little longer before he wears one with his last name correctly spelled on it. … The NFL will undoubtedly fix Juszczyk's jersey before Sunday's game, but let's hope the stadium announcer knows how to pronounce it (YOOZ-check)."
DeCosta Not On Colts' Final GM Interview List
Eric DeCosta won't become the Indianapolis Colts' new general manager.
It was reported earlier this week that the Colts wanted to interview DeCosta, but when the team released its final list of six interviewees yesterday, the Ravens' assistant general manager was not included.
"What isn't clear is whether DeCosta turned down an opportunity to interview or the Colts never officially asked for permission to interview Ozzie Newsome's longtime lieutenant," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "DeCosta, 45, has turned down several previous opportunities to interview for general manager openings in the past."
Either way, DeCosta is hard at work trying to improve the Ravens roster at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., watching some of the best senior prospects entering the 2017 NFL Draft. We'll have an interview with DeCosta later today.