Can Eli’s success get some to lay off Flacco?

There are hundreds of things for which Joe Flacco gets criticized.

His pocket awareness isn’t strong enough. He holds the ball too long. He has trouble reading a cover-2 defense. His eyebrows are too bushy.

Perhaps more than anything else, however, Flacco draws the ire of fans and some media members because he doesn’t display much emotion on the field or in interviews.

Joe_Flacco-fist-pump-tall.jpgSure, he’ll give you a fist pump every now and then after tossing a touchdown pass, but Flacco isn’t the type to act demonstratively, regardless of the situation. He won’t get in an official’s face to complain about a non-call, doesn’t deliver inspiring pregame speeches and prior to this season, at least, rarely came out and criticized those who were critical of him.

And all of that bugs a lot of people, who seem to feel that a quarterback has to be a vocal leader or wear his passion and intensity on his sleeve in order to succeed at the NFL level.

Eli Manning has been judged in a similar fashion for the bulk of his eight-year career. Like Flacco, Manning is relatively reserved and doesn’t really embrace the stage that comes with being an NFL quarterback. The Giants’ QB has never been the type to pound his chest and get his teammates fired up for a key drive or throw a hissy fit when a receiver drops a pass. And that lack of emotion has always been perceived as a negative part of his game.

But Manning has now won two Super Bowls, and has been named the MVP in both. He even has more rings than his big brother Peyton - who is one of the more popular and glamorized quarterbacks in the league, largely because of his gregarious personality and take-charge on-field approach.

Whaddaya know? Turns out a reserved, mild-mannered quarterback can succeed in today’s NFL.

For whatever reason, the traits that Flacco and the younger Manning brother possess have been negatively stereotyped in the current NFL. We want outgoing, fiery, smooth-speaking quarterbacks, not laid-back guys who are willing to let their play do all the talking.

“I think that it’s perceived as a weakness when you’re young,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said of Flacco’s personality last week. “People want to see fire in their athletes. ... I think (Flacco) is going to be extremely successful, and I think he’s going to have rings, and I think he’s got 10 years of his prime to show it. I think that he will be rewarded for his personality in the long run, and hopefully our fans will, too.”

The entire nation saw Eli Manning put on a strong performance Sunday night. They watched as, for the second time in five years, he led a game-winning touchdown drive in the Super Bowl with under four minutes left in regulation.

They saw him calmly move his team down the field, drop passes into incredibly tight windows and navigate complex late-game situations, all while under as much pressure as a signal-caller can possibly be under.

Maybe that cool, calm mentality can be a positive trait for a quarterback to have, after all. Maybe the fact that Manning and Flacco can at times seem so emotionless benefits a QB instead of hinders him.

And maybe, just maybe, Manning’s recent success will cause people to lay off Flacco just a little bit.

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