FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The home fans chanted Mike White’s name during the New York Jets’ season-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but they’re not making a quarterback change this week.
Joe Flacco, who started for the injured Zach Wilson, will remain in the lineup Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday he never seriously considered a change even though he created some doubt on Monday.
“There was a comedy of errors that just led to what looked like a bad performance by him,” Saleh said of Flacco, alluding four dropped passes and two fumbles. “Now, it wasn’t his best performance, but I don’t think it was as bad as people think.”
On Monday, Saleh indicated that Flacco would “likely” start the game, but he added that all positions were under review. White is a fan favorite because of his 405-yard passing performance last season in an upset of the Cincinnati Bengals, but he worked exclusively with the third-team offense before Wilson’s injury in the preseason.
Now the question is, will Flacco have a short leash if the offense sputters against the Browns (1-0)?
“No, Joe’s our quarterback,” Saleh said. “We’re focusing on Cleveland, just trying to get through this one and we’ll see what happens.”
The Jets will be without Wilson for at least two more games. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 16 and was ruled out of the first three games. He returned to practice Wednesday, albeit on a very limited basis. In uniform for the first time since the injury, he did dropbacks and threw to receivers on air during the open portion of practice.
The 37-year-old Flacco struggled in the 24-9 loss to the Ravens, as the Jets didn’t score a touchdown until the final minute of the game. His lack of mobility was glaring — three sacks, 11 quarterback hits and pressured 19 times, according to Next Gen Stats.
Flacco completed 37 of 59 passes for 307 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. In fairness, the run-pass balance was out of line, as the Jets called 62 pass plays out of 79 total plays. He also played behind a reshuffled offensive line, with George Fant returning to left tackle and rookie Max Mitchell starting at right tackle. Those changes were made last week due to a shoulder injury to left tackle Duane Brown, who was placed on injured reserve.
“Well, listen, my job as a quarterback is to put the ball in the end zone and score points and put our team in position to win,” Flacco said. “Any time that doesn’t happen, it starts and ends with the quarterback position — and that’s myself. It was obviously a frustrating day, not being able to do that as well as I wanted to.”
Saleh said Flacco, a former Super Bowl MVP, performed well when the pocket was clean, adding that he needed to find his check-down receivers quicker once the pocket collapsed.
Flacco is 0-6 as a starter for the Jets, covering the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons. He hasn’t won a start since 2019, when he played for the Denver Broncos.
White hasn’t played since a four-interception performance last Nov. 14 against the Buffalo Bills. In three starts, he had four touchdown passes and six interceptions. After the blowout loss to the Bills, he was benched in favor of Flacco. Wilson was out with a knee injury at the time.