OK, I’ll admit that this isn’t the most unique comparison. Ryan and Flacco have been compared constantly since they came into the league together as first-round picks in 2008, and they’ll be compared for the remainder of their careers.
Out of Boston College, Ryan was one of the faces of the ’08 draft, while Flacco was a bit of an afterthought coming out of Delaware. Ryan went on to win the offensive rookie of the year award in Atlanta, but there was no doubt that Flacco would be the runner up in Baltimore.
Since then, both have experienced myriad highs and lows. This year, they’re both struggling more than they’d like — Flacco’s numbers in particular are down — but they’ve both had some big moments, too.
Who would you rather have on your team? Their numbers are eerily similar…
Experience: 4th season
Career stats: 56 starts, 60.8%, 81 TD, 44 INT, 12,686 YDS, 7.0 AVG, 86.6 rating
This season: 10 starts, 60.8%, 15 TD, 10 INT, 2,625 YDS, 7.3 AVG, 85.5 rating
Career win-loss record: 39-17
Playoff stats: 2 starts, 66.7%, 3 TD, 4 INT, 192 YDS/GM, 5.6 AVG, 71.2 rating
Playoff win-loss record: 0-2
Experience: 4th season
Career stats: 58 starts, 60.6%, 72 TD, 42 INT, 12,782 YDS, 7.1 AVG, 85.7 rating
This season: 10 starts, 55.4%, 12 TD, 8 INT, 2,576 YDS, 6.6 AVG, 77.6 rating
Career win-loss record: 39-19
Playoff stats: 7 starts, 53.3%, 4 TD, 7 INT, 150 YDS/GM, 5.7 AVG, 61.6 rating
Playoff win-loss record: 4-3
A lot has been made about Flacco’s playoff record, which is obviously significantly better than Ryan’s. But the argument has to be made that Flacco has received more support than his counterpart. Setting aside the games they’ve won in January, Ryan’s playoff numbers are actually significantly better than Flacco’s.
In Flacco’s playoff games, the Ravens defense has surrendered just 16.3 points per game. In Ryan’s playoff games, the Falcons have given up a ridiculous 39 points per game.
So let’s be careful before calling Flacco clutch, because Ryan has done more with less. Consider, too, that Ryan has led more fourth-quarter comebacks (10 to 6) and game-winning drives (15 to 10) than Flacco has.
Sure, Flacco’s broad numbers were stronger than Ryan’s prior to this year, but he’s simply had more support. Also, despite throwing behind a weaker offensive line, Ryan has only been sacked 79 times in his career. Flacco, by comparison, has been taken down on 129 occasions.
Sean Tomlinson’s take: Yes, Flacco has received far more defensive help. But with all due respect to Todd Heap and Derrick Mason, he was still able to throw for 6,584 yards prior to the arrival of Anquan Boldin two years ago, Flacco’s first true deep target. That said, I’ll still favor Ryan, who’s been a little more reliable and accurate. Flacco has had three games in which he’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes of the last two years (two this year), while Ryan hasn’t had any.
Gagnon’s take: Flacco shows flashes, but he’s too inconsistent. I don’t think either is an elite quarterback at this point, but I’d rather put my trust in Ryan than Flacco.
Last week’s Would You Rather: Drew Brees or Tom Brady?