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The Caw: What If Joe Flacco Were A Falcon? Flacco Responds


What if Joe Flacco were a Falcon?

It's not such a far-fetched idea.

Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith, who chose Ryan ahead of Flacco in the 2008 draft, said the Falcons did "a lot of work" on Flacco in the pre-draft process, and it sounds like the Falcons were split on choosing Ryan vs. Flacco.

"That was a decision that was an organizational decision, and there were a lot of moving parts," Smith said Wednesday. "There's not a whole lot of consensus across the board when you start talking about top-level quarterbacks."

As outlined by Senior Vice President of Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne in The Byrne Identity, The Ravens were seriously considering trading up to the third-overall pick to take Ryan. That meant the Falcons probably would have selected Flacco.

So what if either of those scenarios had played out and their positions were reversed?

I asked Joe on Wednesday how his career would have been different had he been a Falcon.

"Oh my gosh, I have no idea," he said. "The trickle effect from me being drafted … who knows? Who knows where I'd be? Are you kidding me? Who knows. I could be out of the league. You never know. You just never know. I could create all kinds of crazy scenarios for you, Ryan."

That opens the door for some fun. Let's game out Flacco as a Falcon…

2008: Flacco wins the starting job out of the gate, just like Ryan did. Flacco's immediately paired with wide receiver Roddy White, who is entering his prime. He puts up 3,500 yards and wins NFL Rookie of the Year, just like Ryan. Flacco makes the playoffs in his first year, just like Ryan, but beats Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in the wild-card game. Why? Because Flacco wins in the playoffs. Instead of facing the Steelers in the AFC championship, Flacco sees the black and gold for the first time in the Super Bowl. Sorry, but Troy Polamalu still intercepts him off for the game-sealing pick-six.

2009: The Falcons bring in tight end Tony Gonzalez to surround Flacco with even more talent. The Falcons don't lose games in Week 13 and 14, when backup quarterback Chris Redman took over for the injured Ryan, because this is Joe Flacco. He never misses a game. That means the Falcons finish 11-5 instead of 9-7 and make the playoffs.

2010: Flacco starts to hit his stride and the Falcons lose only three games, just like they did with Ryan. This time, Flacco ain't slowing down in the playoffs. Ryan put up 186 yards against the Green Bay Packers in a home wild-card loss. Flacco tosses for 350 and beats the Pack, who eventually went on to win the Super Bowl. Instead, Flacco and the Falcons take home the Lombardi as Flacco gets revenge on the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

2011: Joe Flacco is officially elite. There's no debate; he puts up the stats and he's a Super Bowl champion. And look out, because now he's got first-round wide receiver Julio Jones. Flacco has his best year yet, posting over 4,500 yards. The Falcons make the playoffs again and this time beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants in the wild card. So that means Atlanta reaches the Super Bowl to face New England. Instead of Mario Manningham making a massive tip-toeing sideline catch, it's White snagging an improbable 70-yard, fourth-down bomb (Jacoby Jones style). Joe's a two-time Super Bowl champ.

2012: Don't look now, but Flacco's Falcons are back in the NFC Championship, just as they were in real life. Except this time they beat the 49ers. Why? Because Joe > 49ers. But look out, here comes a Ravens team of destiny. On the verge of a three-peat, Flacco falls to the Ryan-led Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. Sorry Joe, no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

2013: The Falcons are really banged up. Flacco's taking tons of sacks behind a rough offensive line. Atlanta doesn't reach the playoffs for the first time under his leadership. Wow, this is too much like real life.

2014: Flacco and the Falcons head into M&T Bank Stadium badly needing a Week 7 win over a strong Ravens squad. Who wins on Sunday?

So that was fun. Both quarterbacks didn't really want to play my hypothetical though.

"You never know how a draft is going to turn out," Ryan told me. "I feel fortunate to be here in Atlanta. I couldn't have asked to end up in a better place. And so, I don't really think about that."

"At the end of the day, I'd like to think that I would have accomplished a lot of things that I've accomplished anyway, but I don't like to think of that," Flacco said. "I'm a Raven, and that's the end of it."

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