With Darnold out, Flacco set for first Jets start

  • Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
  • Syracuse University graduate

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — With Sam Darnold’s sprained right shoulder still ailing, the New York Jets will start Joe Flacco at quarterback Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, coach Adam Gase said Wednesday.

Darnold, who is considered week-to-week, was injured during last Thursday’s loss to the Denver Broncos. Instead of waiting until the end of the week before a decision, the Jets decided to rule Darnold out midweek to get Flacco ready for his first start in nearly a year.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” Gase said. “That’s what it is. He can raise his arm to a certain degree, but to go out and practice, it would be very difficult for him right now.”

That Darnold returned to play against the Broncos after missing a few snaps and undergoing an X-ray in the locker room raises the question of whether he should have been allowed back in the game.

“The [doctors] thought that was the right thing to do,” Gase said of Darnold returning to the game. “He wanted to go back in. We knew what it was. Obviously, after the game, the next day, he was a lot more sore than he was in real time.”

This marks the third time in Darnold’s short career that he has missed time. In 2018, as a rookie, he missed three games with a sprained foot. In 2019, he sat out three games as he recovered from mononucleosis.

The Jets are 0-6 when Darnold doesn’t start over the past three seasons, averaging 10.9 fewer points per game. That is the main reason they signed Flacco, 35, the former longtime Baltimore Ravens starter and a Super Bowl MVP.

New York signed Flacco in May knowing he would probably miss a couple of games as he recovered from April neck surgery. Flacco was inactive for the first three games, then was the No. 2 quarterback against the Broncos, his previous team, and wound up playing four snaps. He attempted two passes, completing them both.

“Joe is as calm as you can get,” Gase said. “He’s had a lot of experience. … The arm strength is still there, I know that. Joe seems like he’s going to be fine. It’s more about working with the guys he’s going to play with on Sunday and just getting into some kind of rhythm.”

Flacco made his last start for the Broncos on Oct. 27, when he suffered a neck injury and didn’t play for the remainder of the season. He was released in the offseason.

He won only two of eight starts for the Broncos, completing 65.3% of his passes for 1,822 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

Quarterback Mike White will be elevated from the practice squad and will serve as the backup quarterback Sunday.

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