Over at ESPN, KC Joyner put together an article of the league's most overrated players. Although the list was in no particular order, I had a pretty big grin on my face when I saw Joe Flacco's name at the top of it. As Joyner states, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback basically put himself on this list when he stated that he feels he's the best quarterback in the NFL a few months ago. Adding insult to injury, Joyner says how the Ravens' offense was worse than Cleveland's in certain categories last year:
That he isn't the best field general in the league comes as no surprise, but Flacco's 2011 season doesn't even place him in the upper half of the league. His 9.6 vertical yards per attempt mark (VYPA -- which measures success on passes 11-plus yards downfield) ranked tied for 25th, and his 10.7 stretch vertical YPA (SVYPA -- passes over 20 yards downfield) ranked 26th.
To get an idea of just how bad those totals were, they each ranked dead last or tied for last in the AFC North. That's right, the Browns' passing offense of Colt McCoy and a bunch of underachieving wideouts posted equal or better downfield productivity passing numbers than Flacco did while throwing to a wide receiving corps that included Anquan Boldin and standout rookie Torrey Smith.
The next several players listed for the AFC included Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham, Broncos CB Champ Bailey, Jets OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and Raiders WR Denarius Moore. I sort of understood some of those picks, but I think it's a bit too early to call Moore overrated; doesn't he need to have some hype in the first place?
Then, I came to the final name on the list for the AFC, and it was a member of the Cleveland Browns. Who was it? Well, I guess you could say that it would make The Licensed Pessimist proud...
Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns
Haden was a shutdown cornerback in 2010, as his 6.2 overall YPA that season ranked tied for 18th-best in that metric. His 2011 campaign was another matter entirely, as Haden ranked 51st in overall YPA (8.0), 59th in VYPA (11.0) and 65th in SVYPA (14.4). This wasn't a matter of a low target volume skewing the numbers, either, as Haden's 77 targets last year ranked tied for the 23rd-highest total among cornerbacks in that metric.
Bring out the boo birds! I'm not surprised Haden did not rank great statistically last year, but I think the pieces are still there and he is more than up to the challenge of going toe-to-toe with No. 1 receivers again.