New York Jets fans yet again feel comfortably numb now that Joe Flacco is the starting quarterback
Do you, the hardened, scars all over your body, Jets fan, actually think this is what rookie head coach Saleh looked forward to on a Wednesday in Florham Park? Do you imagine him bouncing up out of bed at an obscene time (perhaps 2:30 a.m. ET for his “morning,” Navy Seal-inspired workout) with an uncontainable excitement over a past-his-prime quarterback that halts any upward mobility this organization so desperately seeks and expects?
Of course Joe Flacco wasn’t on his mind in this vein prior to Sunday’s embarrassment of a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Of course the Jets don’t want to be stuck in this position.
Yet, here they are, yet again, as time is a flat circle and Matthew McConaughey still drives a Lincoln.
“You know, Joe is just that veteran. One of the reasons we went and got Joe is for the experience part of it—not only for the playing ability, but for the room, but also for situations like this,” Saleh told reporters prior to Wednesday’s practice. “Miami has a dynamic coverage system as it pertains to defense with zero and all the different coverages they run. Joe’s kind of been there, done that, and (he’s) just kind of a steadying experience that we thought would put us in the best position to win.”
Miami? As in the 3-7 Miami Dolphins currently ranked 29th in team defense (383.1 yards relented per game)?
It appears that way.
Flacco, 36, now officially makes it an official Florham Park “era.” After starting five games for the Adam Gase-led 2020 Jets, Flacco will become one of the few Jets quarterbacks in recent memory to have started games in back-to-back seasons.
Comfortably and familiarly numb is the calling card of the day for Jets fans.
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) November 17, 2021
After all, they found themselves in this exact spot last year. The once-hope of a franchise, Sam Darnold, went down via injury (again) en route to Flacco’s starting emergence.
Remember that flat circle I mentioned? Comfortable numbness is simply the norm at this point.
The roller-coaster ride that’s been the 2021 season has produced more ups and downs than the relationship with your friendly neighborhood bookie. From a promising Zach Wilson summer to his early-season disappointments, the high of the Tennessee Titans game to the London malaise, it’s now Mike White‘s turn to keep this coaster flying way beyond maximum-safety speed.
Nobody in the world thought White would be backing up Flacco this Sunday with the Fins coming to town. Sure, his four-interception nightmare of a game left a lot to be desired against the top-rated Buffalo Bills defense, but enough was showcased against Cincinnati and Indianapolis to at least keep the Novocaine away from the fandom’s foaming mouth for another week.
Now, there’s no Zach Wilson, who’s officially still not yet 100 percent, according to Saleh, and no Mike White. Instead of optimism that can connect to something beyond the team’s current 2-7 mark and dead-last defensive ranking (417.1 yards against per game), the Jets are set to trot out a potentially effective speed bump that might also hinder on-time arrival.
How does anything truly move forward with Joe Flacco?
The decision curiously leaves White’s value in the basement, as well. No matter your thoughts on the kid’s long-term potential, he did enough in his first two starts to at least merit the value discussion by way of a solid NFL backup quarterback.
Now—assuming Flacco plays the entire Miami game and Wilson returns for Houston the following week—there’s a great chance White enters the offseason on the sourest of notes.
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Saleh’s public words don’t exactly match up with the prior sentiment, by the way. At the very least, his words are unconcerned with White’s value consideration.
“I’ll be very, very clear on this one: My comments on Monday were because people wanted him out of New York,” Saleh said in regards to the optimism showed towards the quarterback who struggled so mightily against Buffalo. “What Mike has done in three weeks as a starter has proven to this entire organization—and in my opinion, to the entire New York fan base—that he’s a capable quarterback that can play in this league and can do a lot of good things.”
It’s a tough thing for Jets fans to grapple with, especially when considering White’s final box score against Buffalo surpassed his actual play.
In the first half against the Bills, White wasn’t all that bad. He wasn’t that good, either, but he at least gave the Jets a fighting chance during the early stages of the afternoon. With nothing open downfield, the Florida kid, once again, took what the defense allowed underneath.
When he finally found a crease in order to take a chunk—by climbing the pocket nicely and delivering a well-placed strike to Corey Davis on a post against a Cover 3—the receiver fumbled the ball.
Granted, the second half turned out to be a disaster, but is one horrific game against the NFL’s best defense (and coverage) enough to warrant the boot for a past-his-prime veteran that numbs an already disconcerted fanbase?
Well, to Saleh and the Jets, calling it “the boot” isn’t exactly on point; it’s more of a “temporary change.”
“We’re more excited about Mike as a future quarterback, as a quarterback in our future and working with Mike for as many years as possible (moving forward) because of what he’s been able to do in his three starts,” Saleh added.
Not going with Zach Wilson is fine, and I probably like Joe Flacco more than the average onlooker, but why not Mike White again (post-tough BUF D)? Is he that banged up? He wasn’t in great shape after the BUF game, walking noticeably “banged up.” pic.twitter.com/EPyrdA3KWY
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) November 17, 2021
So, here we are, stuck in this flat circle. From the unthinkable that possibly yielded two future quarterbacks, now to a sudden none (at least until Wilson is ready to resume Sunday action), Jets fans are left without the latest much-required obsession.
No Wilson, no White, no Mekhi Becton, no Carl Lawson … no future. At least that’s the way it feels at this specific moment in Jets history.
From a culture and coaching standpoint, tossing Flacco the game ball makes at least some football-specific sense.
Saleh, his coaching staff, and this locker room desperately need a victory. It’s true not only in the sense that the head coach and general manager are starting to take some much-deserved heat, but it’s factual because this franchise simply needs something good to happen—no matter who delivers that good.
But still, really … Joe Flacco?
I’m probably higher on Flacco than the average NFL onlooker. A year ago, he was the quarterback who gave the Jets the best chance to win—despite the many who refused to acknowledge it.
Nonetheless, Flacco in this situation simply doesn’t sit right.
Is Wilson truly still not 100 percent while coming off a week in which he served as the scout team quarterback?
Is White fully healthy himself? I happened to catch the Jets’ newest backup quarterback leaving the locker room after the Bills loss, and his noticeable hobble traveled way past the point of regular post-game bumps and bruises.
Was Flacco promised anything upon his arrival in Northern New Jersey?
Although the answers to those three questions most likely conjure up no genuine conspiracy, the fact that it feels appropriate to ask such questions is the issue at hand, the topic that leads to little feeling from head to toe.
The latest surprising Jets news raises so many questions without a substantial number of answers. The only certainty is that, while surprising, New York Jets fans have officially reverted to their comfortably (and familiarly) numb status that never seems to detach.
Yet again, while a coaching staff and front office desperately seek wins for the observant purpose that is breathing room, a fanbase turns fantastically more disillusioned.
Any win Joe Flacco may provide doesn’t exactly signal hope for the future. It also wouldn’t earn uncomfortable numbness—a normal human state of affairs that would represent a refreshing change for New York Jets fans.