FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Joe Flacco is back with the New York Jets — and he envisions himself back under center as their starting quarterback soon.
Even if just for a few games.
The 36-year-old veteran was acquired Monday from Philadelphia for a conditional sixth-round draft pick after the Jets needed help in the huddle with rookie starter Zach Wilson out for a few weeks with a sprained knee ligament.
Mike White will make his first career start in Wilson’s place Sunday against Cincinnati. With Flacco just joining the team Friday, he’ll be inactive for the game with 35-year-old backup Josh Johnson elevated from the practice squad. But the Jets’ quarterback situation is uncertain beyond that.
“Well, I mean, you’ve got to talk to probably, you know, the head coach and the offensive coordinator as to what they really see the plan being,” Flacco said Friday. “I think I see myself playing here at some point, you know, in the next couple of weeks. But I don’t really know what they have in mind.”
The Jets have to make a decision — likely by Saturday afternoon — on whether they’ll place Wilson on injured reserve. He has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and the timetable for him being sidelined is two to four weeks. If doctors determine Wilson will be able to return after just two games, he’ll stay off IR. But if it appears he’ll need at least three weeks to heal, the Jets might just give him a full three games to sit and watch.
And that could open the door for Flacco, especially if White stumbles against Cincinnati. New York plays at Indianapolis next Thursday night, and Flacco could be up to speed enough on the Jets’ offense by then to start if needed.
“I’ve played long enough to be able to kind of adapt as much as I can on the fly,” Flacco said, “and be ready as quick as possible.”
Flacco was with the Jets last season, when he started four games in place of the injured Sam Darnold. There was some talk about New York bringing him back, but Flacco decided signing with Philadelphia could present a better opportunity.
Meanwhile, the Jets ended up trading Darnold to Carolina and then drafting Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in April. General manager Joe Douglas has taken some criticism for not bringing in a veteran backup to serve as a mentor and help Wilson develop.
They now have that in Flacco, although it cost them a late draft pick.
“I will embrace that role,” Flacco said. “But at the same time, like, I think I’m here to, you know, in the short term, help out as much as I can on the field.”
That means Flacco wants to play, something he didn’t do in Philadelphia as Jalen Hurts started all seven games so far this season. The Jets are excited about White being able to start Sunday, and it’s believed he’ll continue to do so if he plays well.
If not, Flacco will be there to step in to try to stabilize an offense that ranks among the NFL’s worst in most major statistical categories.
But first, he needs to get a firm grasp on the offense — which is similar to what he ran under Gary Kubiak in Baltimore in 2014 and Rich Scangarello in Denver in 2019. And that’s something Flacco said he can do “relatively quickly.”
“I’ve been in similar, I guess you can say like the same offense-slash-similar offense,” he said. “There’s always little wrinkles that are different in terms of how you’re calling formations, your motions, what you’re calling and certain concepts. So there’s a lot of familiarity with it. It’s just kind of a process of getting yourself back up to speed with it and seeing what they’ve installed and what they really like to run and all those kind of things.”
Flacco has thrown 224 career TD passes over 14 seasons with Baltimore, Denver, the Jets and Eagles. The New Jersey native, who was the Super Bowl MVP with the Ravens during the 2012 season, spent a few days after the trade taking care of a few personal things with his family before re-joining the Jets.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I have a lot of great relationships up here and with players, with people that are in the building. You know, any time you’re looking at an opportunity to play football, it’s exciting.”