Best 5-Year Outlook: Roethlisberger Or Flacco?
Uh, you're reading this article on a Ravens' digital platform. So, the comments from fans on the site will obviously heavily favor Joe Flacco.
But let's at least try to keep an open mind here.
And by doing that, I think you'll see the answer is Flacco anyway (as good as Ben Roethlisberger truly is).
ESPN Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler asked his fellow AFC North writers to pick which quarterback has the best five-year outlook between Flacco and rival Roethlisberger. The writers had to consider four factors: 1) age, 2) supporting cast, 3) consistency and 4) playoff performances.
All three reporters – from the Ravens, Bengals and Browns – had varying responses. Bengals reporter Coley Harvey said it's a tough pick, but ultimately decided on Roethlisberger. Browns reporter Pat McManamon also went with the Steelers signal caller, but was much bolder, saying its "not even close."
Not surprisingly, only Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley picked Flacco.
"Roethlisberger will be the more productive quarterback, but Flacco will be the more successful one over the next five years," Hensley wrote. "Before you start chanting 'homer,' let's look at the past three seasons for these quarterbacks."
OK, let's look at them.
Roethlisberger: 26-19 (.578) regular-season record, no playoff wins
Flacco is 28-20 (.583) regular-season record, five playoff wins, one Super Bowl win
"Advantage, Flacco," wrote Hensley.
While the Browns' McManamon supports his "not-even-close" argument by spouting off Roethlisberger's personal stats over the last four years – and make no mistake, they are impressive – they don't matter as much if you look at the debate the way Hensley does. If the bottom line is wins, especially in the playoffs, then the stats argument only goes so far.
Yes, Roethlisberger averaged 27 touchdowns over the past four seasons and has topped 4,000 yards in three of the past four. Yet, Flacco was the one in the playoffs. Yes, Roethlisberger put up a whopping 4,952 yards last year. Yet, Flacco was the one who came out victorious in the Ravens-Steelers wild-card matchup in January.
All three writers agree that Roethlisberger has the better supporting cast. That's tough to argue when the Steelers have the league's 2014 leading receiver in Antonio Brown (1,698 yards) and the second-leading rusher in Le'Veon Bell (1,361 yards). But again, they may have led the league last year in stats, but it was the Ravens who won in the playoffs.
Then there's age and durability. Flacco (30) is younger than Big Ben (33), and Flacco misses fewer games than Roethlisberger, who has a style of play that subjects him to poundings. If you can't get on the field, you have zero chance of winning.
Flacco has never missed a start in his career. That alone gives him an edge.
"At 30, Flacco possesses more promise for continuing to play five years from now," wrote Harvey.
"Though Roethlisberger looks like he could play until he's 38 right now, you never know how a quarterback's body will hold up once he starts getting into his mid-30s – particularly a quarterback who has endured the bruising Roethlisberger has over the years. Sure, he's larger than some defensive ends and linebackers, but Roethlisberger still has been put through a ringer of injuries."
Koch Could Have Gotten More Money … Why Didn't He?
Punter Sam Koch could have gotten a bigger contract had he played out his final year and tested the free-agent waters, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
The reported five-year, $16.25 million contract extension ($18.75 million overall value) averages out to about $3.25 million a year. That ranks No. 7 in the league, but Koch was the only NFL punter to rank in the top three in both gross and net punting average last season.
"Koch probably could have commanded even more money on the open market," wrote Wilson.
Why didn't he?
"[He] instead chose to remain with the only NFL team he has played for," wrote The Sun reporter.
The contract should allow Koch to finish his career with the Ravens, who drafted the punter in 2006. He's under contract through the 2020 season. Let's hear it in Koch's own words:
"It was always in the back of my mind that the last thing I wanted to do was test free agency, because I didn't want to have the possibility to leave this place," Koch told Wilson. "You have a top-notch organization here, including the staff. To have the opportunity to stay here, I told [Ravens senior vice president of football administration] Pat Moriarty: 'It's not about the money; it's about the chance to have my family rooted here.'
"The money is great, but that's three, four points down the road. To get this done and have my family stay in the same schools, it was definitely a win-win situation."
Patra: Jernigan Could Put Up Double-Digit Sacks
Could second-year player Timmy Jernigan put up double-digit sacks in 2015?
That would be quite a leap from his rookie season in which he put up four.
But, that's kind of the point of NFL.com's Kevin Patra's series of articles entitled, "Making the leap." The Around The NFL crew is looking at players around the league who could jump from no-name status to a quality starter. Or even an excellent player leaping to superstar status.
Jernigan has not been shy about his desire make the Pro Bowl and Patra sees the talent in Jernigan that would catapult him into those ranks. And this year, Jernigan will have a greater opportunity with more snaps now that Haloti Ngata is in Detroit.
With only 330 snaps as a rookie, Jernigan's impact was limited. While he was stuck behind Ngata, Jernigan also missed five games due to injury.
"Despite the limited reps, Jernigan showed a skill set that could propel him toward dominance with an expanded role," wrote Petra. "As a penetrating lineman, Jernigan showed burst up field on pass rush in his game film."
Jernigan will need to show that an increased workload won't diminish his production, but Patra thinks the young defensive lineman can do it.
"Given his pass-rushing ability, understated run-stopping skills and an increased opportunity in a very good defense, Jernigan enters 2015 with a decent shot at double-digit sacks and] hitting his [Pro Bowl goal," Patra wrote.
Guess Which Play 49ers Fans Voted To Change …
Every team has a play that haunts it, and wishes it could change.
Ravens fans recently voted that play to be the Lee Evans drop in the 2011 AFC championship game.
For 49ers fans, it's a play that lost them the 2012 Super Bowl.
It was quarterback Colin Kaepernick's incomplete pass on fourth down against the Ravens defense in Super Bowl XLVII. The play won in a landslide with 56.6 percent of fans' votes. Thank you, Jimmy Smith (and no, that was not holding).
Let's watch it again. After all, 49ers fans' pain is Ravens fans' joy.