Joe Flacco often is a public punching bag, so it was nice when he recently got a little love for having the strongest arm in the NFL. ESPN's Ron Jaworksi also said Flacco was the No. 9 quarterback in the league.
This opinion caused a little controversy in Baltimore, but it's not like the locals believe Flacco was ranked too low. They aren't sure he's really that good. Even among his home crowd, Flacco still has to win over people.
"Certain guys don't get the benefit of the doubt," Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk said recently during a radio appearance on WNST-AM. "He's shown in big spots that he's come through most of the time and he can play. Our game plan isn't designed to have Joe Flacco throw 450 yards a every game to help us win. That's not our style of football. I guess that's not the cool, hip way to play football in the NFL these days."
Flacco has made strides as a pro, and he ended last year on a high note. But the criticism he receives is predictable because he's a quarterback on a high-profile team and he still suffers too many letdown games every season. (Last season's "Monday Night Football" effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars, anyone?)
Birk is right that Flacco doesn't get the benefit of the doubt from the public. It's just not unique or especially fair. We'd say that's true of any veteran quarterback who hasn't won a Super Bowl.