Joe Flacco didn’t have to do this.
He surely doesn’t need the money. He already has won a Super Bowl and was named its MVP.
He has won a lot of games in the NFL (98-76 in the regular season), been to the playoffs six times and owns a 10-5 postseason record with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He has carved out a pretty damn good — not to mention unlikely — legacy for himself coming out of Delaware, not traditionally a university that produces a lot of NFL players.
Flacco, who rehabbed his way back from a serious neck injury suffered last season, didn’t have to come to a struggling Jets team and play backup quarterback when he had been a starter almost all his life.
At age 35 and in his 13th NFL season, Flacco wanted — and still wants — more, which is why he signed with the Jets to back up Sam Darnold.
He made no secret about his intentions when he signed a one-year contract in May:
“I obviously still believe I’m a starting quarterback. You never know what three years down the line is going to look like. So, I have that confidence, and I still have the [desire] do that. But at this moment, that’s not my role. My role is to help the team get better and to help a young quarterback see things as clearly as possible and help him with his journey to be a longtime NFL quarterback.”
In October, when he was about to start his first game for the Jets with Darnold out with his first shoulder injury, Flacco was asked if he’s still trying to prove himself as a worthy NFL starter.
“I’d be lying if I was to deny that,” he said. “I want to play quarterback in this league. There’s definitely some truth to that.’’
Flacco, despite his desire to be a starter again — something he did for the first 11 years of his career before Lamar Jackson took over in Baltimore in 2018 — has done what he can to mentor Darnold, and he has filled in when Darnold has been hurt.
So, here we are again: Flacco will start for the fourth time this season when the Jets play at the Chargers on Sunday.
Flacco, of course, wanted no part of Darnold getting hurt, but this is the opportunity he came to the Jets for — to show his next potential suitor that he’s still what he believes he is: a starter.
Darnold’s shoulder injury, its prognosis and the timetable for his return have been rather nebulous. He could be back next week, it might be a couple more weeks, or he might not be back at all this season, with the Jets 0-9.
Now is Flacco’s time to shine in his 11th-hour audition.
He’s 0-3 in his three starts this season — a 30-10 loss to the Cardinals, a 24-0 loss to the Dolphins and a 30-27 loss two weeks ago to the Patriots. That makes the Jets 0-9 in games Darnold has not started in the past three seasons.
But it was in that game against New England that the Jets looked better than they have all season, as if they actually had an NFL offense, and that was with Flacco.
If Flacco and the offense continue to play the way they did against the Patriots, they’ll have at least a puncher’s chance against the Chargers — who’ve developed a bad habit this season of losing close games in the final seconds and must have a wobbly confidence.
“I feel confident,’’ Flacco said. “I played this game for a long time, and at a certain point you get right back in the groove and you’re playing a football game and you’re trying to win.’’
Wouldn’t it be so Jets — so very Jets — if Flacco were to get hot and help the Jets win a couple of games, and that cost them the No. 1-overall pick and the chance at Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence?
That, of course, is the last thing on Flacco’s mind right now, as he worries about his own future, not the Jets’ long-term future.
“Obviously, you hope in some way that you get a chance to prove that you can still do it — not only performance-wise, but health-wise,’’ Flacco said. “You want that chance.’’
He’s got it. It’s what he came here for.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article