The detractors were always on the quarterback's case. They said he would make a big play, then infuriate them with a bad one. Said he was a nice guy but didn't have enough fire. Said he had a big arm and all the skills but the question was always whether he could lead his team to a title.
Wonder what Ravens fans are saying now about Joe Flacco?
The narrative for the Baltimore quarterback is a familiar one around these parts. Landry Jones spent his entire Oklahoma career facing the same type of criticism. It's hard to say how big the disapproving chorus is — it's definitely a minority of Sooner fans — but it's definitely been vocal.
Now, on the day Jones launches his NFL dream and plays in the Senior Bowl, you have to wonder if the questions will follow him. A month or so ago, one NFL guru pegged him the biggest enigma of this draft's quarterback class.
Just maybe, though, Flacco's story provides some much-needed perspective on Jones.
In The Oklahoman sports department, we know more about Flacco and his story than we should. That's because The Boss is a Maryland native and a Ravens fan.
He's forever talking about Flacco, and these past few weeks as the Ravens have plowed their way through the AFC and into the Super Bowl, it's only gotten worse.
Yet, what Flacco has done has been impressive. He led Baltimore to a beatdown of Indianapolis, then an overtime win at Denver, then a dismantling of Brady and the Patriots at New England. Those are three big-time wins by a guy who Ravens fans have long believed was hindering their team.
The Boss once bought his son a Flacco T-shirt.
The lad's initial response: “What am I going to do with it when the Ravens trade him?”
Now, he wears that Flacco shirt all the time.
The truth is, Flacco didn't have a full complement of offensive weapons around him until the last two seasons. Now, he's got a great tailback in Ray Rice, a full complement of receivers led by Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, and seam-finding tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Individually, none of those guys will set the world on fire, but collectively, they provide quite an arsenal to a capable quarterback.
And Flacco has proved to be more than capable.
Which brings us back to Jones.
You can make the argument that Jones is the most talented quarterback available in this year's draft. More talented than Matt Barkley or Geno Smith or Tyler Wilson or Mike Glennon or ...