Things seemed to be trending in the direction of the sophomore quarterback playing after he suffered a ton meniscus in the Jets’ preseason opener. Instead, New York will be forced to rely on Joe Flacco as a stopgap option starting Week 1 against his former Baltimore Ravens team.
“Heck yeah, man, Cool Joe. He’s been preparing. He’s freakin’ awesome. I’m really excited for him for this opportunity,” New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Joe Flacco starting.
Outside of the fact that Saleh is using a nickname reserved for one of the greatest of all-time, this sense of conidence in Flacco doesn’t seem to be rooted in reeality. The head coach wants to prop up his players. There’s nothing wrong with that. At issue here is Flacco’s standing as a journeyman backup after winning a Super Bowl with Baltimore earlier in his career. New York is now set to rely on Flacco to open the campaign. And in reality, it could make or break their season.
New York Jets have a team-friendly schedule to open the season
New York will open the season at home against a Ravens team that has some question marks on the offensive side of the ball. That includes the offensive line and an unproven wide receiver group for quarterback Lamar Jackson. This is an ideal scenario for a Jets defense that is looking to rebound following a disastrous 2021 campaign under Saleh. If Flacco is able to somehow avoid mistakes while managing the game, it will help the Jets keep this one close and potentially steal one at home.
New York will then take on the Desahuan Watson-less Cleveland Browns in Week 2 before hosting the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals the following Sunday. If the Jets are able to come out of this stretch 2-1, it will bode well. If not, things could take a turn in pretty damning fashion moving forward.
Related: 10 burning questions for NFL Week 1
Difficult stretch for the New York Jets in October
Whether it’s Zach Wilson or Joe Flacco under center starting in Week 4, this team is going to be up against it. New York faces some difficult competition once the calendar flips to October.
- Week 4: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
- Week 5: Miami Dolphins
- Week 6: @ Green Bay Packers
- Week 7: @ Denver Broncos
- Week 8: New England Patriots
- Week 9: Buffalo Bills
Talk about a gauntlet of a schedule. If New York opens the season losing its first three games, this is going to snowball in quick fashion, leading to more questions about whether Saleh will be long for the job in Jersey.
Joe Flacco must prove that he can be that stopgap option
Flacco ended the preseason with an absolutely pathetic pick-six. In fact, it came on his final pass of the exhibition slate. It’s been a continuing theme for the 37-year-old Flacco since he was last a full-time starter with the Baltimore Ravens back in 2017. In fact, Flacco’s regression has been eye-opening.
- Joe Flacco stats (2018-21): 62% completion, 5,489 yards, 27 TD, 14 INT (6-16 record in 22 starts)
It must be noted that Flacco started for a talent-stricken Denver Broncos squad in 2019 and has not had much to work with in five starts over the past two seasons in New York.
With that said, the indicators are not great here. In those five starts with New York, Flacco has led the team to an average of 16.4 points per game while losing all five outings. There’s hope that New York’s reconstructed skill-position group can help Flacco out. But the team must perform at a much high level defensively if it’s going to avoid another disastrous start to a season.