Oddsmakers not wacko for Joe Flacco in Denver - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Oddsmakers not wacko for Joe Flacco in Denver

Feature photo of Joe Flacco by 2012champs (Creative Commons)

Super Bowl MVP QB’s move to Mile High City drops Broncos’ championship odds.

Maybe the Denver Broncos should have stuck with, of all quarterbacks, Case Keenum.

Yes, that now Redskin quarterback Case Keenum, who has won exactly one playoff game in his career and is coming off a season in which he ranked 21st in yards per game (243.1), 23rd in passing touchdown (18) and tied for second with 15 interceptions. His 81.2 passer rating was good for 29th in the NFL.

But oddsmakers said Denver would have been better with Keenum, who is now battling for a starting job in Washington, than with who the Broncos have now: Joe Flacco.

Yes, that Joe Flacco, who has perhaps fallen faster than any Super Bowl MVP in league history – a downward spiral in which he has turned into, essentially, a quarterback worse than Keenum.

The stats say so and so do the oddsmakers, who promptly made Denver an even bigger long shot to win Super Bowl LIV, dropping their odds from 100-1 to 125-1, as soon as the Broncos acquired Flacco in a trade. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ title-winning odds improved with Flacco’s departure, going from 30-1 to 28-1. Let’s just be honest: The Baltimore Ravens look good for 2019.

Tell me: which quarterback has been better in his past 41 starts?

“Quarterback A” has thrown for 49 TDs, 33 INTs, completed 63.8 percent of his passes, average 235.1 passing yards a game for a rating of 86.

“Quarterback B” has thrown for 50 TDs, 34 INTs, completed 63.8 percent of his passes, averaged 242 passing yards per game and had a rating of 82.6.

Go ahead.

Take your time.

But ask yourself this: would you want either of the two leading your football team?

John Elway, the Broncos’ general manager, certainly does. He’s no longer a fan of Quarterback A, which is Keenum, and he’s counting that Quarterback B – you guessed it, it’s Flacco – will find the fountain of youth nestled in the Colorado Rockies and return to youth, when he guided the Ravens to three AFC title games and a Super Bowl win in his first five years in the league.

But here’s why the oddsmakers dropped the Broncos’ chances to win the title like Elway has dropped quarterbacks from the roster since Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl in 2016.

Flacco appears to be an upgrade over anyone on the Broncos’ quarterback carousel, which has included Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch Trevor Siemian, and Keenum, who have all failed to lead the Broncos back to the playoffs. Denver is coming consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the Nixon administration, a free fall that cost coach Vance Joseph his job. But let’s face it – he’s no Kurt Warner who was discarded from the Giants after MVP years and a Super Bowl title with the Rams and eventually took the woeful Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. No Joe, you’re no Kurt Warner.

Flacco’s days in Baltimore come to an end midway through last season when he was sidelined with an injured hip behind a struggling offensive line that paved the wave for Lamar Jackson, the team’s first-round pick. Jackson’s mobility breathed life into an offense that had gotten stale with Flacco’s predictable and inconsistently executed short passing game.

Jackson turned the Ravens into the league’s best running attack, averaging more than 229 yards per game, and led Baltimore to six wins in its last seven games to win the AFC North title. Jackson finished with 695 yards rushing – an average of 4.73 yards a carry – to go along with 1,201 passing yards and six scores. He struggled with turnovers, but with Flacco healthy and the playoffs looming, coach John Harbaugh had the rookie play every snap against the Chargers, even when the team’s poor first half was met with boos from the home fans at M&T Bank Stadium.

While Baltimore had its answer as to who would be its quarterback of the future, Flacco’s future was uncertain.

Denver could have worked a deal for several other starting quarterbacks on the market – Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor and Blake Bortles, all of whom had led their team to the playoffs more recently then Flacco.

But Denver went with Flacco, a 34-year-old whose contract carries salaries of $18.5 million for 2019, $20.25 million in 2020 and $24.25 million in 2021.

The oddsmakers’ dropping of Denver’s Super Bowl odds suggest Flacco’s not the answer and Denver could be in real trouble this year if Flacco is the same Flacco he’s been for the past two-plus seasons.

But the 125-1 odds also suggest that perhaps no team is worse at quarterback than Denver.

Here is who Vic Fangio, who was a defensive coach in Baltimore when Flacco was leading the Ravens every year, has at quarterback right now: Flacco; Drew Lock, the team’s second-round pick last month; undrafted rookie Brett Rypien out of Boise State; and Kevin Hogan, who didn’t throw a pass last year.

Go ahead: Tell me a team in the league that has a worse situation under center. Even the Cardinals have hope with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and the Dolphins have Josh Rosen, who deserves more than one year to show what he can do.

I’m waiting.

Can’t think of one?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Oddsmakers can’t think of one, either.

About the author

Jon Gallo

Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game. Contact the author.

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