Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had a heck of run through the playoffs last season that culminated with him winning a Super Bowl championship and an MVP award. Flacco has since been rewarded by the Ravens with a six-year, $120.6 million contract, but Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark still doesn\'t consider him to be one of the top quarterbacks despite his accomplishments.
Clark, who was a guest Thursday night on the NFL Network Top 100 Players of 2013 after show, was asked to give his thoughts on Flacco after former Ravens safety Ed Reed said that the Ravens quarterback certainly should be considered one of the top seven quarterbacks in the league based on what he did in 2012 alone.
"You talk about last season; I can be honest, going into the two games playing you guys; I wasn\'t scared of Joe," Clark said to Reed. "I didn\'t walk into the game thinking that Joe was the focus of the offense, or that Joe was the guy that we had to stop going into the games."
Clark would later say that he wants to see Flacco follow up his great 2012 playoff run, that included him going 73-of-126 passing for 1,140 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, with a complete season the way Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did in 2011.
"I think the thing is, too, if he does what Aaron Rodgers did, if we can remember when we played the Packers in the Super Bowl, he had that great playoff run," said Clark. "Then the next year they go 15-1 largely because Aaron Rodgers played out of his mind, and he made that ascension into the guy that we feel like he is now. If Joe continues that pace and continues the play that he had in the playoffs, I think you have to rank him higher on this list. But right now..."
Flacco wound up being ranked 19th overall on the top 100 list, which is supposedly voted on by players around the league, but even analyst Warren Sapp thought that ranking was too high based upon the fact that a blown coverage by the Denver Broncos secondary in the Divisional Round last year was the only reason the Ravens even made it to the Super Bowl.
"Without that throw the rest of it doesn\'t happen; the championship doesn\'t happen, and we don\'t get to see an emerging quarterback come out of his shell and is now going to lead this team all by himself," said Sapp. "I\'m more interested to see what he\'s going to do this following year, because Ray Lewis, Ed (Reed) and the rest of them dogs ain\'t in there. Everybody going to turn and look at Joe and be like, \'Whatcha got, big boy?\'"
While Flacco has failed to beat the Steelers in the playoffs during his career, he has managed to go 5-5 against them in the 10 games that he has faced them during the regular season with a 3-1 record in the last four meetings. Now that he has gotten paid, the Ravens will expect him to keep up his winning ways against the Steelers, and scared or not; it will be up to Clark and the rest of the defense to make sure that he doesn\'t. With Clark entering the final year of his current contract, the two games that he will face Flacco in 2013 could very well be the last two chances that he will get in his career to beat the Ravens quarterback.