ESPN reporter John Clayton is routinely lambasted on his “blog” for ESPN.com because he makes outlandish and often ridiculous statements. Perhaps no single statement has garnered as much ridicule as his singular proclamation that Baltimore Ravens starter Joe Flacco is “an elite quarterback.”
Clayton has been stuck on stupid for some time now. He affirmed Flacco’s future greatness years ago. He was sure the evidence would come. Clayton even went so far as to suggest that we were seeing was merely a mirage. Flacco’s 4-10, 34 yards, 1 INT nightmare vs. the New England Patriots was not really a disaster! It was a sign of greatness because he was a young QB winning playoff games on the road. Clayton’s statements read as if Ray Lewis and Ray Rice had suddenly changed uniforms; as if Flacco’s 4 measly completions actually impressed someone in Foxboro other than his own mother and John Clayton.
Clayton, a former beat writer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, even went so far as to ignore the pitiable performance Flacco offered up in the 2008 AFC Championship game. He served up another fitful apologia after the Colts put Joe to bed without any dinner in 2009. In 2010, it’s been CRICKETS.Yesterday, John Clayton led off his “Last Call” (presumably all the booze had been consumed) with an assessment of the Bengals – Ravens game. The Bengals own the Ravens. There was absolutely no mention of one Joe Flacco. At the beginning of the season, John Clayton was willing to stretch the very definition of the word elite to include 14 starters in a league with 32 teams. Yesterday, as the Baltimore Ravens struggled to move the ball and Flacco went 17-39, for 154 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions, John Clayton couldn’t even bear to mention his name. Nor did John Clayton see fit to mention the arsenal that GM Ozzie Newsome has put at Joe Flacco’s fingertips. No mention of Anquan Boldin or Derek Mason or T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Ray Rice or Todd Heap.
Last year, I asked the question. Is Joe Flacco the worst post-season QB of all time? If things continue as they are going, we may never get any additional evidence to test this hypothesis. Joe Flacco is no more of an elite quarterback than John Clayton is a journalist. Clayton is an old man who has been seduced by size, arm strength, and style.
Perhaps John Clayton has reached an age where he cannot wake up. It is time, however, that his editors tap the snooze button. Someone should inform him that in a league with 32 passers, his beloved Joey Flax is ranked DEAD LAST with a passer rating of 41.2.
John Clayton isn’t the only one with a bad case of the Flaccos. Rich Gannon caught the bug on Sunday as well.
CBS Sports analyst Rich Gannon spent most of Sunday’s game between the Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals denying the reality right before his eyes of what a wretched game Joe Flacco was playing.
Maybe it was because they were both one-time University of Delaware quarterbacks. What’s the odds of that in the NFL? But whatever the reason, it was a case study of an analyst going into a game with a point of view, and refusing to reconsider it or give it up altogether even though events on the field were contradicting it left and right.
Gannon came into the telecast singing the praises of Flacco, and the more the third-year quarterback sputtered in the first half, the more the CBS analyst looked the other way or blamed others. It was both annoying and fascinating to watch.
On one play in the first half, the Ravens tried to go vertical with receivers going straight down the field on both sides. Flacco was looking to his left all the way, and the multiple receivers on that side were covered.
“He’s just got nowhere to go,” Gannon said like he knew what he was talking about.
But as he got to the word “nowhere,” the producer was running a replay onscreen that showed a Ravens receiver all alone and wide open on the right side of the field.
That’s what it took to get Gannon to finally acknowledge, “They just don’t look comfortable out there.”
He kept saying “they,” presumably referring to the Ravens offense, when he should have been calling out Flacco — loud and clear — as the biggest problems with the Ravens offense.
And Gannon was willing to blame anyone but Flacco.
“If I’m Cam Cameron [offensive coordinator], I’ve got to find a way to get my young quarterback going,” Gannon said later in the first half.
How about your young quarterback, who is now in his third year, finds a way on his own instead of walking around with that droopy look he gets in his eyes on days when he throws a lot of interceptions.
I don’t think Cameron was throwing those interceptions.