Monday, January 10, 2011

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Joe Flacco. The Numbers.

Something that a lot of us have heard that Joe Flacco is on the pathway of Ben Roethlisberger in terms of playoff success and quarterback development. Most of us here in the Steel City this is some sort of a joke because of the success of these two teams have had against each other.

Having a quarterback that could have an immediate impact like Ben did is not something you see everyday, but Flacco has been able to lead his team to playoff success, even if he, himself, has not attributed a lot to those wins.

With the Ravens coming into Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon this matchup is going to be huge. I typically am not a person that reads much into matchups like this because Ben and Joe are never going to be on the field at the same time so it really can't be a match up. One thing is for sure, neither team is going to run the football. Bottom line. That means that the quarterback is going to have to get you a win and if you had a choice between Big Ben and Joe Flacco who are you going to take? If you kept the defenses the same and you could have either QB, who would you want? Lets take a look.

First lets take a look at the success that each QB has had against each other while looking at how each plays in terms of final margin. Lets start with the one we call Big Ben.

Ben has done nothing but absolutely dominate the Baltimore Ravens. These stats above versus the Ravens are from the regular season. Ben has gone 7-3 and almost 2 TD passes and a single pick per game against a pretty good Ravens defense.

I think a telling stat about Ben is his record in one score games. 25-17 in one score games. In his career Ben has led 19 fourth quarter comebacks and 24 game winning drives. That is the definition of a money QB. Ben has made a living through the years on bring his team back. Whether it is a 96 yard drive against the Ravens in 2008 on the road or taking his team down the field in the Super Bowl he just gives you that feeling that you are going to have a chance to win the football game.

Ben has played just one less than 100 games and has won 69 of those games thus far. To put that in perspective Tom Brady won 76 of his first 100 starts and he is widely regarded as the games best quarterback by a long shot. Ben should be considered right on that plateau. Ben has been given the stereotype of thowing a ton of picks, but in his seven season (including this year) he has thrown more than 12 interceptions only twice and has thrown for less than 10, two times. Sure this year was only a 12 game slate for Ben in the regular season but with the way he is playing I can't see him throwing five more interceptions in four other games.

One of the more underrated stats for quarterbacks is yards per attempt, a stat that Roethlisberger is consistantly at the top of the league for. His career 8.0 YPA which trumps that of Tom Brady (7.4), Drew Brees (7.3), Peyton Manning (7.6) and yes, even God himself, Brett Favre (7.1). That my friends is impressive. Roethlisberger's YPA for his career sits him fourth in NFL history also.

Ben ranks ninth among active QB's in passing yards per game and sixth in touchdown percentage among active NFL QB's.

Now lets take a look at Joe Flacco:

If Ben has been good against the Ravens in the regular season then Joe Flacco has been average at best against the Steelers in his meetings. The Baltimore signal caller is 2-4 against the Black and Gold and has only averaged a single touchdown pass per game and is only completing 55% of his pass attempts. Although it is not technically a QB-vs.-QB game it must be noted that the two regular season wins that Joe has against the Steelers is with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch at the helm. Even if you include playoff statistics Joe Flacco has never beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers when Ben Roethlisber in a game where there team play against each other.

Overall in his NFL career Joe Flacco has a 32-16 record in 48 games. If you play this out and double it to 96 games that will result in a 64-32 record which will put him on that same plane as a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger. There is something to be said about the way Flacco came into a franchise that really had no QB sucess in the pass and quickly put some stability in the position. Joe also has four fourth quarter comebacks and eight game winning drives. Projected out that will give Joe some pretty decent numbers, but stacked up against Roethlisberger I don't think you can say that Flacco can stack up to Big Ben. Now keep in mind that Flacco has played abotu half as many games as Roethlisberger and I am basically doubling Flacco's stats to get comparable numbers so it isn't full proof, but for comparison's sake in Roethlisbergers first three seasons he compiled nine fourth quarter comebacks and 11 game winning drives.

Flacco has a pretty respectaable 7.2 YPA average over his career and finished this season with a 7.41 average, which was good for 11th in the NFL. Nothing awe inspiring, but still a ton better than Carson Palmer or even Peyton Manning this season who had sub-7 YPA. Flacco's touchdown percentage is 4.2% and has just about twice as many touchdown passes (60) as interceptions (32) which is a better rate than that of Roethlisberger (144/86) despite the much better touchdown percentage from Ben.

When talking about quarterbacks, however, only one things seems to matter when you talk about the best of the best. Playoff wins and Super Bowl wins.

Lets look at Flacco first:

While Flacco has been pretty basic in the regular season he has been medeocre in the playoffs, number wise. He gets wins though. Flacco has never played a home playoff game, but he doesn't care, and that says a lot in my book. Going into Pittsburgh and New England is never easy and he has done both and put his team in a position to win.

Only completing 53% of your passes and throwing a touchdown pass every other game isn't going to cut it no matter how you slice it. Flacco is prone to throw picks with six in his six playoff games. It also has to be noted that while the stats provided do not list sacks taken, Flacco takes a few. While he might not take the most in the league he just sometimes doesn't feel when players are coming at him. He was sacked on a backside blitz against the Chiefs where he fumbled and who can forget the epic pick he threw to Troy in the AFCC game in 2008.

Outside of the game against the Chiefs Flacco hasn't had a standout performance himself in the playoffs. Period.

Now to take a look at Ben:

Nobody can deny two Super Bowl rings on Ben's finger. The first Super Bowl was a forgetable performance against Seattle. If you think the team won because of Ben then you have no idea. Despite Ben not performing well in the Super Bowl he was the sole reason for gettin the Steelers to the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl run was highlighted by a dominating performance by Roethlisberger against the Bengals,Colts and Broncos where he tossed a combined seven touchdown passes and only one pick.

Roethlisberger was clutch against Arizona in the latest Steelers Super Bowl against Atlanta with an epic game winning drive to defeat the Cardinals. No denying how clutch this kid can be and how he can throw a team on his back for a win.

In the 2008 AFCC game the two were up against each other for the only time and Roethlisberger came out on top despite an average performance. Ben's line read 16-of-33 for 256 yards and a touchdown and pick. Flacco was a pedestrian 13-for-30 for 140 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions, one of which was taken for six by Troy Polamalu to seal the game.

Final Conclusions

While it is hard to take away from what Flacco has done in his three short years. Going on the road and winning three games in your first three seasons says a lot. Roethlisberger still has years on Flacco and who knows, maybe someday we can look back and say that after the same amont of starts that Joe Flacco was a better quarterback than Ben Roethlisberger. Right now you can't do that.

You can't sell Ben short of what he has accomplished in his career and his playoff sucess can back that up. A lot of people can say that Ben stepped into a good situation to be so successful, and don't get me wrong he did, but you can't convince me that Ben was a huge part in both Super Bowl runs.

Right now I don't think you can put Joe Flacco on the same plane as Ben Roethlisberger. Just can't do it. Ben is an elite NFL quarterback and Joe Flacco isn't. Bottom line.

Now, I realize that I only hashed over the grand scheme of things, but I highlighted what I feel are the most important pieces of being a good quarterback.

I know I will get called out for being a homer on this, but when you sit down and look over the grand scheme of things you would have to want Ben Roethlisberger. Today, right now, I want Ben, not Joe. Bar none.

Let me end by saying that Joe Flacco may someday become a quarterback than Ben, but right now you can't predict that stuff. All you can say now that Ben Roethlisberger is on another level.

What do yinz think? Did I miss something? Leave it in the comments.

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