Joe Flacco vs Matt Ryan Debate: Why You’re Probably on the Wrong Side


Long-lived is the debate of who is the better NFL starting quarterback: the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan or the Baltimore RavensJoe Flacco.

Perhaps what helped spark it in the first place is the fact they’re both members of the 2008 draft class – Ryan was taken third, Flacco 18th by their respective current teams.

Overall, the popular public opinion seems to have Ryan superseding Flacco – by a long shot. However, we’re not taking the popular stance here. Why? Because it’s simply wrong.


In the regular season, Ryan has thrown 240 touchdown passes, while Flacco has thrown 182. The two are close in interceptions, with 117 for Flacco and 114 for Ryan. Flacco has a regular season record of 83-55, while Ryan is 85-57. Barring the touchdown statistic, that doesn’t look like a huge gap.

The fact the two are neck-and-neck while Flacco must carry his offense more so than Ryan gives him the edge by itself.

The easiest go-to point for the typical Flacco fan is the fact he has a ring, and Ryan doesn’t. It’s actually a more valid point than you may think, and it carries even more weight than it appears to on the surface.

You can’t evaluate the “talent” of a quarterback without heavily considering the offense surrounding him. If you take a look at the Falcons on this side of the ball- they’re loaded with targets that are standout players in their own right.

Namely of these is Julio Jones, who just might be the best at his position in the league. Ryan’s team also currently features Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, who can function as both wide receivers and running backs in the offense. He’s also had Roddy White to work with in previous years.


When you look at the Ravens offense, things are pretty barren. Flacco doesn’t currently have a go-to guy, and hasn’t in a very long time. The last athlete to even come close to being a true weapon was Steve Smith Sr.

I tackled this topic with none other than fellow USA TODAY SMG writer, Lindsey Ok.

“So basically one of my things with Matt Ryan is, he’s done so much less with so much more,” she said. “Give Joe Flacco a guy like Julio (Jones), and he’d have those same stats. But he gets stuck with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Still managed to win a Super Bowl with those guys.”

“I mean, arguably his best receiver he’s ever had was Steve Smith… he’s never had a great wide receiver in his prime, ever.”

The strength of the offensive line for pocket passers like Ryan and Flacco is also crucial. The Falcons’ offensive line was far and away better than that of the Ravens last year, with Pro Football Focus ranking the unit 6th best in the league.

Baltimore didn’t fare so well, finding themselves at No. 23 on the same list. The Falcons O-line ranked above Baltimore’s in the season before that as well.

There’s signs the Baltimore O-line is continuing to deteriorate per PFF analyst, Eric Eager. Last season, Flacco faced pressure on 31.8% of dropbacks, which was 18th of 29. But he got rid of the ball in in 2.51 seconds per throw (21st of 30). So it’s obvious that the Ravens are having him release the ball faster than they did in previous seasons.


Postseason performance is also paramount.

Ryan may have the stats depending upon how you look at it, but Flacco’s got results without question. The Ravens signal caller has completed 253 of 407 passes, for a completion percentage of 56.60. He has thrown for 3,223 yards, with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the playoffs. He has led his team to a total of 15 playoff appearances, with a record of 10-5.

Ryan has completed 194 of 285 throws, for a completion percentage of 68.07. He threw for 2,244 yards, with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. In the playoffs, he currently holds a 3-5 record.

Both quarterbacks have accomplished more than enough in their careers to go down as “elite.” But for the time being, Flacco remains slightly but surely ahead.

Crissy Froyd is a current student residing in Spring,Texas. She currently covers sports for The Bank, USA TODAY SMG and SB Nation. Her work has also been featured on and Yahoo! Sports. Find her on Twitter @crissy_froyd.

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