Playing at 37 may work for some quarterbacks, but not the Jets’ graybeard
Mike White! Zach Wilson! Mike White! Zach Wilson! CHRIS STREVELER!
Yeah, the noise won’t stop. Every stat, every throw, every play will be debated ad nauseam, likely past this season. Maybe Mike White can lead the Jets to the promised land and shut the doubters up, but even then, there would be those saying that White should never have played.
However, following a few ugly plays against the Bills by a different quarterback, there’s one quarterback decision that must be made immediately: get Joe Flacco off the field.
This feels so obvious that I don’t even want to get into the numbers or the film. It was abundantly clear when Joe Flacco managed to possibly lose the game for the Jets on just five snaps. It was pretty evident after his opening-game malaise against the Ravens. The miracle comeback against the Browns obscured just how washed Old Man Flacco is, but the Bengals game made Jets fans glad to see Zach Wilson back.
Well, the situation may have changed in terms of who the starter is, but not on who the backup should not be.
In my opinion, the Jets should turn back to Zach Wilson as the backup. Indeed, Robert Saleh said Wilson has a chance to don the uniform this week. The decision to deactivate him over the last two weeks was curious to begin with.
However, after Flacco missed an open Tyler Conklin down the seam and was strip-sacked against the Bills, regardless of whether it’s Zach or Chris Streveler backing up Mike White, it cannot be the old Ravens QB.
We’ve talked a lot about Zach Wilson’s turnover-worthy play rate this season (5.7%, tied for the worst among 39 QBs with min. 125 dropbacks), but we haven’t discussed Flacco’s 4.0% rate, which is tied for 29th. Or his 30.8% on-target rate for passes traveling 20+ yards, which ranks 35th. Or his 51.3% on-target rate for passes between 10-19 yards (38th). Oh, but he’s so accurate in the short range (best at 88.6% on-target rate)! That’s why he should be the backup!
No, the main reason that Joe Flacco should not be the backup comes down to one thing: fumbles. Flacco has been strip-sacked five times this season, tied for the third-most in the NFL. However, because he’s had only 169 total dropbacks, his strip-sack rate is 2.98%, while the NFL average is 0.876% among 36th QBs. That means his strip-sack rate is 3.4 times the NFL average!
I don’t care what your offensive line looks like; to be 3.4 times the average in strip-sacks makes you an unplayable QB. The word “statue” was made for Joe Flacco. For reference, Zach Wilson’s strip-sack rate is ninth-best at 0.488% behind a similarly fluctuating and ineffective offensive line, and Mike White is 18th at 0.749%. So both the dancing sack artist and the other statue have managed to keep their strip sacks down, but Flacco hasn’t been able to.
You can argue that Flacco has had more opportunities to be strip-sacked, but that’s precisely the point: he does not feel the pressure coming. Zach Wilson, for all his follies and foibles, usually has the issue of noticing pressure too quickly. Mike White seems to have a pretty instinctive feel for when he’s going to get hit. Flacco, on the other hand, wouldn’t know that a rusher was coming from his blindside if the guy blew a trumpet to announce his arrival.
But Rivka, you’ll say. Aren’t interceptions just as bad as fumbles, or even worse because there’s no chance for the offense to recover them?
I might accept that argument if Flacco kept his turnover-worthy throw rate down, but as we said, he hasn’t. So the point is moot. He’s putting the ball in harm’s way at a rate that rivals Zach Wilson’s with an offensive line that will not be able to protect him. What’s the point in benching Wilson for the 37-year-old, washed-up version? At least Zach has potential.
If the Jets are so dead-set against the potential for Zach Wilson to come into a game, put Chris Streveler in as the backup. At least he can run a bit, and hey, Mike White has done pretty well for himself thus far as a fan favorite!
But a certain former Jets coach does not agree. As we’ve seen with several former Jets coaches recently (ahem, Todd Bowles), there was a reason they were fired. When the Jets fire a head coach, it’s usually a sign to the other 31 teams never to hire the guy again.
"You gotta take a chance with Joe Flacco"
— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) December 13, 2022
Instead, Eric Mangini got another job in Cleveland, and made the most of it… by furthering that trainwreck, too.
So for the Whiters and the Wilsoners alike, I think everyone can agree that Joe Flacco should never wear the Green and White (or any other uniform, for that matter) again.
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