Seven games into his fifth season, is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco among the elite yet?
By the numbers, at least, the answer is yes. There just isn't a huge difference between Flacco now vs. last season.
The offense is struggling even though they're 5-2 and hardly anyone remembers how Flacco began the season on fire, opening with 299 yards on 21-for-29 passing, two touchdowns and season-high passer rating of 128.4 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Or his fourth-quarter comeback to beat the New England Patriots as he posted a season-high 382 yards on 28-for-39 passing, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 117.7.
Flacco is hoping to get a new contract from Baltimore, but talks haven't gone anywhere just yet. He has said he believes he's a top 5 NFL quarterback. So do his teammates, though the topic of conversation hasn't come up recently given the way the Ravens are playing.
In 2011 after seven games, Flacco actually had passed more (262) but wasn't as accurate (53.8%), had 86 fewer yards (1,751) and one fewer TD passes (8). The Ravens were 5-2 then, too.
So how does he stack up with the league's Mount Rushmore of signal-callers such as Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers?
Through seven games in Year 5, Flacco has the fewest TD passes and lowest completion percentage by comparison among that group at the same stage of their careers.
Flacco's yardage, however, is second to Rodgers, who had the most TD passes, highest completion percentage and fewest interceptions.
Statistically speaking, he belongs among the pack:
Rodgers: 147-for-225 (65.3%) for 1,989 yards, 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
Flacco: 150-for-252 (59.5%) for 1,837 yards, 9 TDs and 6 INTS
Manning: 170-for-258 (65.8%) for 1,798 yards, 12 TDs and 10 INTs
Brady: 129-for-215 (60%) for 1,660 yards, 13 TDs, and 7 INTs
Brees: 128-for-199 (64.3%) for 1,505 yards, 10 TDs and 6 INTs