It's like every offseason someone has to proclaim how good a quarterback he is.
First of all, I don't think Joe Flacco really believes he's the best. I know there's that professional pride, and that's why things like "Who's the best QB?" aren't decided by the quarterbacks themselves. I think Flacco was giving the answer he thinks he's supposed to give -- and one his teammates want to see him give, as well. It wasn't a knee-jerk response to the query, rather a well-thought out "When I'm asked this question, this is what I'm going to say."
So now that we've figured that out, just where does Joe Flacco rank in current quarterback hierarchy? Let's go 1-32 and see where everyone sits. The criteria for the rankings don't factor in age. This is not "Who do you start a team with?" It's simply a measurement of where each QB stands right now, entering the 2012 season. And brace yourself for a shocker right off the bat ...
The top 10
Breer: Cam's dandy debut
Cam Newton enjoyed one of the finest rookie seasons in NFL history. Albert Breer found one head coach who is still in awe. More ...
8) Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: No matter who he has to throw to, he wins. He was better in 2010 without Vincent Jackson than with him. He elevates his receivers and could be a Hall of Famer by the end of his career like Dan Fouts. He could also wind up never getting to a Super Bowl like Fouts, too.
10) Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: It's a make-or-break season health-wise for Vick as far as his status as an elite QB goes. If he could have stayed upright this past season, he'd be in the top five. But he didn't, so he's not. (I just found out I really like ending sentences that way. I'm thankful to have stolen it from Colin Farrell in "In Bruges.")
The next five
Intermission: There is not just a big drop from No. 15 to 16 and below, it's one of those Wile E. Coyote-chasing-The-Road-Runner-over-the-edge-of-a-cliff-and-holding-up-a-sign-that-says-"Yipe!"-before-falling-down-a-thousand-feet-into-a-dirt-cloud drop. End intermission. No food and drinks allowed inside for the rest of this list.
The ones who could someday crack the top 15
Rapoport: Preseason intrigue
The preseason schedule is out, and there's plenty of intrigue in the 65-game slate. Ian Rapoport provides top storylines. More ...
The ones who make the top two-thirds of this list possible
23) Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: Projecting he'll beat out Tim Tebow, at least for a week. Think about this: He's this low, despite playing lights-out in two playoff runs when he was the Jets' best player. That tells you how inconsistent his regular seasons have been. And yes, I'd have him this low even if Tebow wasn't on the team.
24) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills: Look at his stats and you see a late-career bloomer. Look at his stats after his first 16 NFL games and you see why he's rounding out the bottom third. Defensive coordinators know how to slow him down. But he did go to Harvard, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as he attempts to make his own adjustments this offseason. Here's my first tip: Don't grow the beard.
Harrison: 12 for '12
Elliot Harrison counts down the top 12 games to look forward to in 2012, including a few rematches from the playoffs. More ...