Which AFC North quarterback has the best five-year outlook: Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco? That was a question that Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com asked his fellow divisional writers to answer and two of the three chose the Steelers quarterback.
Coley Harvey, who covers the Cincinnati Bengals for the site, gave a slight edge to Roethlisberger because of the players he is currently surrounded by. However, he is worried a little about Roethlisberger’s age and durability moving forward.
“Roethlisberger also has the better and more stable supporting cast at the playmaking positions,” writes Harvey. “He is part of a franchise that knows what it takes to not only get back to the Super Bowl, but to win it.”
While Flacco does have a few new weapons in wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams, neither have played a down of football in the NFL. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if running back Justin Forsett can continue to produce like he did last year and especially since the team now has yet another new offensive coordinator in former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
As for the supporting cast that Roethlisberger has right now, and will potentially have for the next few seasons, that group is already playing at a high level and thus should only improve moving forward. In other words, a lot fewer unknowns.
Pat McManamon, who covers the Cleveland Browns, has Roethlisberger as an easy choice as he calls the Steelers quarterback “special.”
“Not even close,” writes McManamon. “Roethlisberger. Start with the fact he’s been basically operating in the same system for years and that he has great leeway in making play calls at the line. Continue with the receiving corps, anchored by one of the best in the league in Brown and with two fine young players in Sammie Coates and Martavis Bryant, then add in the playmaking of [Le’Veon] Bell and it’s obvious Roethlisberger has more around him.”
As for Jamison Hensley, who has a long history of being a Baltimore Ravens homer, he chose Flacco, even though he admits that Roethlisberger will likely be the more productive quarterback of the two in the coming years. He defends his selection of Flacco by saying that the Ravens defense will be a better supporting cast than the one that Roethlisberger currently has and will have.
“The transition on defense will be a challenge for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next couple of seasons,” writes Hensley. “Flacco has proven he can withstand change in his supporting cast, including the loss of future Hall of Fame defenders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.”
Perhaps Hensley should focus in a little more on the offensive side of the football as it relates to a change in supporting cast for the very reasons that I listed above. Personally, I expect the Ravens offense to take a step backwards this upcoming season and it will also be interesting to see if their defense can quickly overcome the losses of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and edge-rusher Pernell McPhee as well.