Jets' coach Robert Saleh defends under fire Joe Flacco
Questions are being raised as to why the Jets would sign an unvaccinated player, now that he sits on the covid-19 reserve list.
In the midst of the debate surrounding the league's vaccine push, the situation surrounding the quarterback has brought an unwelcome headache for the Jets
Jets' Robert Saleh defends Joe Flacco
When the New York Jets' acquired quarterback Joe Flacco as backup for the injured Zach Wilson, eyebrows were raised. Now that Flacco - who said last week that he is unvaccinated - sits on the covid-19 reserve list, there are serious questions being asked. With QB now expected to be absent for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans - his third absence since joining the Jets - coach Robert Saleh was forced to defend the team's decision to acquire an unvaccinated quarterback in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round pick.
"I'll stand by this forever," Saleh said on Wednesday. "When someone offers a sixth-round pick for a player of Joe's caliber, to me there is no risk. You're playing with house money. I've said it before: You can trade back one spot and get that sixth-round pick back in a hurry. I know we look at draft capital, but that's an easy decision. He's a proven quarterback, a Super Bowl quarterback, a record holder, a guy who can settle an offense if he needs to step in there, which he did on Sunday. He did a phenomenal job against Miami's pressure system. That, in itself, is worth its weight in gold."
Zach Wilson returns with Josh Johnson as backup
While there is a great deal of fervor surrounding Flacco's current scenario, the reality is even without the covid-19 situation he would have been back on the bench this week. Having performed credibly in the 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins with two touchdowns and 291 yards passing, the backup is about to give way to returning starer, rookie Zach Wilson who is back after missing 4 games with a sprained knee. Wilson has been given the green light to play against the Texans. Interestingly Flacco was also required to clear five days of protocols when he was first traded from the Philadelphia Eagles. Due to that delay he was unable to face both the Bengals and the Colts, at the time raising questions. The Jets will now look to Josh Johnson who has been promoted from the practice squad to serve as the backup with both Flacco and Mike White sitting on the covid-19 list as of Tuesday.
White himself actually tested positive. Flacco for his part didn't test positive but had close contact with White. As he is unvaccinated, Flacco must now return a negative test for five consecutive days after his last contact before he can return to the team. In theory he could actually be cleared on Saturday. Were he vaccinated of course he would still be with the team.
What's the Jets QB situation now?
When all details are laid aside, the logic behind Flacco's acquisition is easy to understand. A former Super Bowl MVP when he was with the Baltimore Ravens, Flacco is an experienced quarterback. That's exactly what the Jets wanted in a backup for Wilson. During Wilson's absence - and Flacco's - White started three games, beating the Bengals in a record setting performance, but then going on to lose the next two. White eventually suffered an injury to his forearm and only managed one quarter against the Colts. Up next were the Dolphins and it was widely expected that White - having recovered - would be the starter but coach Saleh surprisingly opted for Flacco.
Speaking on whether Flacco could feature on Sunday, Saleh suggested it would be in an emergency situation. Citing the likelihood of positive covid-19 cases rising after the Thanksgiving holiday, Saleh didn't deny the possibility that Wilson or Johnson could end up on the covid-19 list. Should that be the case the Jets would have to fly Flacco out to Houston for the game.
"There's a possibility he could be there Sunday," Saleh said. "We're rolling with Josh unless this holiday season something else happens, so we're going to leave that door open." Wilson - who is vaccinated - was unconcerned about the possibility that he could have contracted the virus from White. "I feel like we've taken the precautions and stuff," he said. "Obviously, I hope it doesn't happen -- you never know -- but I feel good. I wasn't worried about it at all."