"I think he’s one of the elite quarterbacks in this league," Kelly said Thursday before the second day of joint practices between the Ravens and Eagles.
Flacco's status has been a long and heated debate. He has won the most games (78), including playoffs, of any starting quarterback since 2008, when Flacco entered the league. But he has never thrown for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdowns in a season.
"He’s got a big-time arm," Kelly said. "He’s a big human being. It’s tough to bring him down. He’s also just so poised when he plays back there. You talk about when guys really got it, the game has slowed down for them. He’s such a good decision-maker. He’s an unbelievable clutch player. You look at him in all the situations he’s been in, he always seems to have poise and nothing seems to rattle him."
Kelly compared going against Flacco to the last two seasons, when the Eagles had joint practices against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He also said he was excited to see the preseason schedule, which included games against Andrew Luck, Flacco and Aaron Rodgers.
"You’re talking about three of the top quarterbacks in this league," Kelly said.
Flacco often smiles when the topic comes up about whether he's elite.
"I think that's just the thing people want to talk about these days with everybody," Flacco said last month. "I think we've won enough games around here for people to want to talk about it at different points. It's all good. If we're being talked about in any way -- negative or positive -- it's all good because it usually means we're playing well enough to be a topic of conversation at some level."
Kelly first saw Flacco in 2006, when Kelly was an offensive coordinator for New Hampshire and Flacco played for Delaware.
"So I knew how good Joe was going to be a long time ago," Kelly said.