We have New York Jets breaking news ahead of Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins.
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Joe Flacco — not Zach Wilson or Mike White — will get his first start of 2021 at MetLife Stadium on November 21.
Cimini stated: “In a surprise, the Jets are planning to start Joe Flacco vs Miami, [a] source tells ESPN. Zach Wilson [is] still not 100%. Flacco’s experience likely a big factor in the decision, facing blitz-heavy D.”
The Jets HC did confirm that White will be the backup in Week 11. Wilson will be inactive once again.
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Robert Saleh Chooses Flacco Over White
The Jets appear to be taking the cautious approach with Wilson, who they clearly view as their future at this point and time. The second overall pick suffered a strained PCL in his knee and has been sidelined since Week 7.
With the original timeline being 2-4 weeks of recovery, a Week 12 return is not technically a setback being that Wilson will have missed four games at that point. The head-scratching move is Robert Saleh choosing to start Flacco over White for a number of reasons.
For starters, White has had one spectacular outing, one terrible outing, and an incomplete one. Yes, the Cincinnati game was most likely fool’s gold based on the soft defense the Bengals chose to utilize but the Buffalo blowout may not be the real White either. His talent level is likely somewhere in between and at age 26, why not find out what that is?
The second reason is Flacco’s trade clause. According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, “The #Eagles will get a 2022 5th-rounder if Flacco plays more than 50% of the snaps in four games this season, rather than a 6th rounder.”
A lone Flacco start doesn’t turn the Jets draft pick into a fifth-rounder but Saleh must be conscious of that agreement. Any return higher than a sixth-rounder for the 36-year old signal-caller would be disastrous.
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Who Gives the Jets the Better Chance to Win?
Coach Saleh touted Flacco’s experience when discussing the choice to start him in Week 11, noting that he puts the Jets in the best position to win on Sunday. Coming off a four-interception performance from White, this could be accurate but let’s review.
In Week 10, Flacco was the better quarterback statistically but he did it in garbage time, so that plays a factor. Having said that, the veteran went a perfect three for three with 47 yards passing and a touchdown. That yielded an insanely efficient 158.3 passer rating off six snaps.
White was obviously at his worst, going 24 for 44 (54.5%) with 251 yards passing and the four aforementioned turnovers. His passer rating was a miserable 33.4.
There’s also the Miami defense to consider. The Jets beat made a point to mention Brian Flores’ blitz-heavy playcalling, adding that Flacco is better equipped to handle it. However, DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News pointed out that the vet went “21-44 for 186 yards, 1 [interception]. A passer rating of 50 as he was blitz 48.9% of the time” last year against Miami.
The Bills also exploited White with the blitz, bringing a combination of LB Matt Milano, LB A.J. Klein and S Micah Hyde 18 times — not to mention a few others.
It’s hard to say who puts the team in a better position to win. Saleh and Mike LaFleur seem to think Flacco does and maybe they’re right. Despite that, there’s no disputing that starting White makes more sense long-term with a possible contract extension looming.
Quite frankly, this decision is yet another puzzling one from this first-year coaching staff.