For Joe Flacco, he's no longer being criticized for being an overrated game manager who wins on the strength of his defense. He's now getting an early push for being a Most Valuable Player candidate.
That's what happens when you are the quarterback of the NFL's second-ranked offense.
NFC West blogger Mike Sando has Flacco at No. 4 on this week's MVP watch. ESPN's Ben Alamar built a case for Flacco based on numbers. It's an Insider piece, so you'll need a subscription to view it. Just to touch on his argument, he narrowed his list of MVP candidates to quarterbacks who ranked in the top 10 in QBR and led a top-10 scoring offense. That left Alamar with a list of Flacco, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. Here's what Alamar had to say at this point:
Brady and Ryan require little defense of their early MVP credentials, as each has earned a reputation as an elite QB. Flacco, however, is regularly discussed as an overrated QB who has a great win total due to his defense, not his personal contribution to the Ravens. The Ravens' offense has picked it up this season and is currently fifth in points scored and second in total yardage, while the defense is currently 11th in points allowed and 23rd in yardage allowed. The offense is running the show now in Baltimore.
As long as the Ravens keep winning, Flacco is going to get increasing buzz for MVP. The offense has taken over as the dominant unit, and Flacco has eclipsed running back Ray Rice as the centerpiece of the offense.