Durability - An Under-recognized QB Element
With the Roethlisberger Ribgate coming to a head now seems like a good time to praise Joe Flacco (and hopefully not jinx him by posting this) for sticking through each game and staying healthy and to bring attention to what I believe is an under-recognized component of a great QB.
Joe is currently 3rd in active game streaks for a QB behind Eli Manning and Philip Rivers and only two games away from tying for 20th all time. For a historical perspective, he would move to 17th at the end of the season and all the way to 7th if he finishes next year without missing a game as well.
It doesn't matter if you're Joe Montana - if you're not on the field you're not winning games. This is an element that doesn't get brought up (except in my mind) when I see pundits and the like composing their Top QB lists. I'm a realist - I know Joe isn't Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees. But a lot of times you'll see names like Vick, Romo, or Schaub ahead of the name Flacco.
Michael Vick hasn't played a full season since 2006. Schaub very well may have cost his team a Superbowl trip given the handful they were in the 2011 playoffs and how good they look this year.
Even if a QB has played in 97% of his games, such as in the case of Matt Ryan, missing a game can cost your team big. Ryan has been the starter in all but two games, but one of which resulted in a Redman-led loss to the Eagles. The impact on the season? Had Ryan played and defeated the Eagles they would have made the playoffs instead of Philadelphia.
That's what makes Joe's consistency special and it's not for lack of Joe getting hit either. Unlike some teams where it seems the QB has enough protection he could throw from a lawn chair in the backfield, the Ravens have been in the top half of teams suffering sacks for all but one of Joe's seasons.
It's not all chance. Certain QBs are consistently hurt and others like Favre and the Mannings can string together decade long streaks. It's a combination of genetics, toughness, play style, and a little bit of luck. Whatever the make-up of those elements is for Joe it's working.