Joe Flacco on Being a Top-Five Quarterback: I don’t Think I’m Top Five, I Think I’m the Best

More than 11 weeks have now passed since Bill Cundiff shanked a last-second field goal attempt to bring an abrupt end to the Baltimore Ravens’ 2011 season. Had that 32-yarder gone through the uprights, a stellar Joe Flacco performance might not have gone to waste. Flacco had taken so much heat for his poor play the weekend prior against Houston, but he clearly outperformed Tom Brady in the AFC championship game. Naturally, the last 11 weeks haven’t been easy for anyone on that Baltimore roster.

Joe Flacco joined WNST in Baltimore to discuss how he’s moved on from such a soul-crushing finish to the year, also commenting on if he was able to actually watch the Super Bowl, on how he handles the constant criticism and on his contract, which expires after the 2012 season. Flacco broke down the perceived lack of attention the Ravens have received nationally (something that caused national headlines the last time he addressed it), and also spoke about the two goats of that final game, Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff. Finally, in reference to comments made last month by his agent, he stated that he not only believes he’s a top-five quarterback, but the best in the league.

On what he’s been doing in the offseason:

“A lot of boredom, working out, and just trying to keep your body in the shape that it was when you entered last season.”

On if he’s over Baltimore’s AFC championship game loss to New England yet:

“As a player, you play the game, you do your best and there’s an outcome and  you’re either disappointed with it or it’s one of the best things in the world. Winning an NFL football game — there’s not too many things that I’ve experienced that feel better than that. And I’m not just talking about a playoff game, I’m talking about any game. So yeah, it goes the same way when you lose one. You’re disappointed for a while, and especially when it’s the last game of the season. And we played so well. It hurts for a while, and it probably won’t truly be back to the way we want it until we get back out there again. But there’s a time where you have to move on and enjoy the rest of your life and get back to it. … My wife’s pregnant and I’m excited about that. So when I have other things on my mind, it kind of keeps the fact that we lost that game off of my mind a little bit.”

On if he was able to watch the Super Bowl:

“I watched the last four minutes. I didn’t watch anything besides that. I was hanging out with Dennis Pitta, John Beck, who used to play here, Todd Heap, who used to play here obviously. And we were hanging out, and we were actually out of the house for probably the first three quarters. We came back in the fourth quarter and it was on the TV in the background but we probably didn’t watch it until the last four minutes. … I definitely didn’t have any interest in watching the game. If it so happened that I wasn’t in the house when the game wasn’t on then I didn’t really care. I had no interest. It would have been a tough game to watch, especially so close off of that loss.”

On if he’s surprised by the polarizing reception he’s received as the Ravens quarterback:

“Surprised? Not really. … You just kind of wonder why it’s like that. And we’ve been fortunate — we’ve been in the playoffs the last four years, and have won a playoff game the last four years, and have been a team to really contend for the Super Bowl. Haven’t quite gotten there yet, but for the most part we’ve been very fortunate and been on the good end of those things. It just so happens that when we lose, people tend to criticize us a little bit for it. And because I’m the quarterback, I can get a little bit of that. And it just goes with the territory.”

On contract negotiations:

“We talk about it, but I leave it to [agent Joe Linta]. And it either gets done or it doesn’t. And I’m not really too involved in the process besides letting him know how I feel and letting him take care of that and letting the Baltimore Ravens take care of their side. And that’s really my involvement. It’s not about the money, it’s about what you as a player feel that you deserve. And at the end of the day, they’ll take care of it and I’ll be waiting.”

On if he’s surprised that the Ravens don’t get a lot of attention from the national media:

“Not anymore, man. I said it before, we’ll win very big games and you will not be able to see it. And you don’t hear about it, you don’t see it anywhere. And as soon as we lose, everybody wants to beat us up for it. Well we only lost four games this year in the regular season. I know they were games that people might have wanted to see us win, but at the end of the day winning those games would have done nothing for us in the New England game. I’m sure everybody thought we could have been 15-1 — I’m one of those guys. San Diego was a real game that we lost, the other games we were all there at the end and we probably didn’t play our best. But that’s the way this league goes sometimes. And that’s why teams don’t go 16-0 every year even though they might be the best team in the league.”

On if he’s talked to Lee Evans since he dropped a potential game-winning touchdown late against the Patriots:

“Yeah, I talked to Lee in the locker room. I have not talked to him since then. I said, ‘Hey man, keep your head up. We’re all in this together.’ Sometimes people want to react so strongly due to the fact that we lost the game, but everybody in that locker room is on the team together and we’ve all put in our fair share of work. And we all go out there and leave it all on the line. And we do everything we can to win the football game.”

On Billy Cundiff’s miss:

“It happens, man. You’ve seen it happen. … The ball came off his foot and then it was just no good. It really probably didn’t hit me till a couple minutes after the fact that that meant we lost. I kinda just went, ‘wow.’ I kind of felt like I was on the couch back at home, watching the TV. I was kind of like, ‘Wow, we didn’t hit it.’ And then I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that means we don’t win the game.’ Nobody’s put in more work than he has to get to that point and to feel confident and to go hit that kick. It just didn’t happen.”

On if he believes he’s a top-five quarterback, as his agent stated he was earlier this offseason:

“Without a doubt. What do you expect me to say? … I assume everybody thinks they’re a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m top five, I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way. I mean, c’mon? That’s not really too tough of a question. But that doesn’t mean that things are gonna work out that way. It just means that that’s the way it is, that’s the way I feel it is, and that’s the way I feel it should be.”

On if those who favor individual stats and who ignore wins and losses bother him:

“I dunno, because people do put winning into the consideration a lot of times. It just happens to not be with us. But hey, I wanna throw for 40 touchdowns a year and I wanna throw for 6,000 yards a year. I really do. And I wanna be given the ability to do that. … You know what kind of team we need to be is we need to be a Super Bowl champion team. And in order to get there, we need to do the things that are gonna really get us there. And hey, we might lose one or two games because we’re being really super aggressive, but you know what? That’s what’s gonna get us to the Super Bowl. And that’s what’s gonna win it for us. And I love winning, and I’m gonna continue to win no matter what my numbers are. I don’t care if I throw for 2,000 yards a year. I wanna throw for 5, 6,000 yards a year, because I think that’s what’s best for our team.”

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