By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “Is _________ an elite quarterback?” is an often-asked question that’s difficult to answer. That blank was filled with Eli Manning’s name after last year’s Super Bowl, and is filled by this year’s Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco.

The “elite quarterback” question is so hard to answer, because it’s so hard to define. It doesn’t really mean a “top five quarterback,” as there could be more or less than five elite quarterbacks depending on the talent in the league. People like to use post-season success as part of the measuring stick, but it can’t be everything. Dan Marino is proof of that.

People were in a rush to put Eli Manning into that category after his second Super Bowl, but it’s hard to imagine an elite quarterback playing as poorly as he did at times this year.

It’s sort of like the “does _______ belong in the Hall Of Fame?” question.

The best way is to probably divide quarterbacks into different classes, and see who fits with whom. A sort of a “one of these things is not like the other” test.

His postseason success notwithstanding, I don’t think Flacco fits into the “elite” category.

I haven’t put them in order within the groups.


Peyton Manning

Tom Brady

Drew Brees

Aaron Rodgers

Ben Roethlisberger

Matt Ryan (debatable)

Very Good:

Eli Manning

Tony Romo

Joe Flacco

Russell Wilson

Colin Kaepernick

Andrew Luck

Robert Griffin III (Pending Injury)

Then there’s the “good” category, with guys like Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub.

The question is, when you look at that elite list, with Rodgers, Brady and Brees, does Joe Flacco fit? My sense says no.

It’s true that some quarterbacks seem like they thrive under the pressure of the playoffs, and that goes into it. But can Joe Flacco put the team on his back the way Brees or Rodgers does? I say no. And that counts too.

It’s not an easy call.

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