Flacco, Rodgers: The New NFL Order
I’ve always been honest in telling readers the NFL ranks near the bottom of my sports interests. Most of my career has been in basketball, baseball and college football.
So, I write about the NFL today following completion of the annual Super Bowl madness not as an expert, but more accurately as a casual fan.
To me, Payton Manning and Tom Brady have set the standard, and I’m surprised when neither one of them guides his team into the championship game.
But in recent years a new breed of quarterbacks have come along and that’s the beauty of sports, you never know what will happen next.
There’s no denying that Flacco was the most successful quarterback of this season. He threw 11 touchdown passes in the playoffs with no interceptions and led the Baltimore Ravens to the title.
So I try to evaluate NFL quarterbacks now and after giving the subject some thought I conclude that
Flacco and Aaron Rodgers head the list.
I also give high marks to Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan while keeping Payton Manning and Brady firmly in my mind.
Pretty soon the free agent period will begin and some teams will have to make important decisions.
As I understand it Flacco is a free agent who can sign anywhere, but NFL people I respect tell me he’s likely to stay in Baltimore even though he has previously refused the team’s offers.
With Ray Lewis retiring, Flacco can become the undisputed team leader even though he’s not the most vocal guy and leads primarily by example.
The moment I’ll remember the longest about the NFL season was Flacco’s game-winning pass in Denver that beat the Broncos and sent Payton Manning out of the playoffs.
Without that play Baltimore’s season would have ended there just as many fans thought it would – just as many clear-thinking fans and experts expected it to end.
And my second most memorable moment – actually several of them – was watching Ray Lewis do his thing on a football field after 17 NFL years.
But now the 49ers have a big decision – what to do with Alex Smith, their quarterback the first half of the season but a bench-warmer after that.
No doubt, he has lost the starting position to Colin Kaepernick, a far superior runner. But Smith has two years remaining on his contract and if a quarterback need arose there who would be a better choice?
Will Smith stay in San Francisco or fulfill his desire to be a starter somewhere else? Will the 49ers pay him $8 million over two years to be a backup? There have been indications in recent days they would do that.
We’ll know soon enough.
In an aside, the NFL combine is coming up, followed by the NFL draft and I’m interested to learn how Matt Barkley will do.
The USC quarterback has fallen far due to the Trojans’ poor season and his shoulder injury. Can he get back in the NFL’s good graces or will he drop to the second or third round and begin a mediocre NFL career?
Remember, he once ranked with Andrew Luck. But now is he simply out of luck?