Flacco must find playoff success to be considered franchise QB

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks took questions from fans during his weekly chat on NFL.com. Even though he tackles the best questions during the chat, sometimes he feels the need to expand on some of his answers.

Is Joe Flacco going to be the "franchise quarterback" that everyone wants him to be? Matt, Maryland

That's the question weighing heavily on the mind of general manager Ozzie Newsome and the organization as the Ravens determine whether or not to give Flacco a lucrative extension prior to the season.

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Flacco has guided the team to three straight playoff berths while compiling an impressive 32-16 record during the regular season. Although he has primarily been a game manager, he has completed 62 percent of his passes for 10,206 yards with 60 touchdowns and 34 interceptions during his career. He's coming off the best season of his career with a 93.6 passer rating thanks to a 62.6 completion percentage for 3,622 yards with 25 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

From a scout's perspective, Flacco is best described as a classic drop-back passer with a big arm and solid fundamentals. He incorporates his lower body into his throws, which produces balls that come out of his hand with tremendous zip. He's also accurate with his ball placement and can fit passes into tight windows.

Even though he is capable of making all the throws within the offense, Flacco is at his best when working inside the numbers on intermediate passes. His timing, delivery and placement are outstanding on in-breaking routes, and the Ravens do a great job of featuring those concepts.

On top of being a precise, rhythm passer, Flacco throws a good deep ball with touch. He routinely drops his high-arcing throws in over his target's proper shoulder. Although the Ravens lack the speed on the outside to take advantage of Flacco's big arm, he's had success pushing the ball deep when given opportunities.

In looking at his flaws, Flacco struggles with his decision-making against complex coverage. He has difficulty sorting through pre-snap disguises, and his hesitancy results in poor throws or turnovers. His struggles against these tactics haven't shown up consistently during the regular season, but they have been critical elements in the Ravens' postseason losses over the past three seasons. His completion percentage (53.3), touchdown-to-interception ratio (four TDs to seven picks) and passer rating (61.6) during seven playoff games are all significantly lower than his regular-season marks.

In fact, Flacco has just one game with at least 200 yards passing in the postseason and thrown picks at critical times. With that, a strong argument could be waged about the Ravens advancing in the postseason because of their defensive dominance.

While numbers don't always paint an accurate picture when evaluating a player's ability, Flacco's significant drop in production in the postseason is hard to ignore when assessing his potential to be the face of the franchise.

In a league in which success is often determined by the play of the quarterback, you wonder if the Ravens truly have the confidence in their young star. The team scaled back the number of passing plays when it needed to win down the stretch, and the offense appeared to operate better when the running game was the primary catalyst.

That doesn't suggest the presence of a franchise quarterback, and that is why the jury is still out on Flacco. While he has an impressive regular-season record, he has underperformed in big games and must prove to his teammates and others that he is a clutch player.

Until Flacco's the difference for the Ravens in the postseason, he will be viewed as a good player but not a great one.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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