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Was signing Joe Flacco the right move for the Jets?

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The former Super Bowl MVP came cheap

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

When the Jets signed Joe Flacco to a contract back on May 22 it was generally heralded as a quality move by Joe Douglas by the mainstream football media. After all, the Jets only had an unproven David Fales and a rookie in James Morgan as a backup to Sam Darnold. Considering the current situation where team practices will be limited, James Morgan will have insufficient time to learn the system and acclimate to the step up in competition of the NFL. Fales on the other hand has failed (no pun intended) to impress during his NFL career which raises the question of his worth to the Jets.

Flacco we have been reminded is a seasoned 12 year veteran and the Super Bowl XLVII MVP. He has a 108 -78 career record (including playoffs) and started all 186 games he has appeared in. He has a proven record of leading a team in big games. He has won more road playoff games (7) than any QB in NFL history. He seems like a perfect fit for a team like the Jets who are trying to learn how to win games consistently.

Yet questions remain about whether Flacco was a good choice or not. We can look at the pros and cons of this signing so you can decide if Flacco was the correct choice to be the Jets primary backup QB.

The Pros

I have already highlighted most of the pros to Joe Flacco’s signing earlier. His record speaks for itself as a starting NFL QB. I can add that Joe Flacco has over 40,000 yards in passing which is 22nd on the list of most passing yards in NFL history just behind Johnny Unitas. This is some great company. He has a completion percentage just under 62% and a 218 to 141 TD/Interception ratio. His completion percentage is fairly low by today’s standards, but Flacco was more of a vertical passer than a most. He never played in a WCO (West Coast Offense) or systems that stressed shorter passes. He has a 10 - 5 record in the playoffs, all as a member of the Baltimore Ravens with a 25 to 10 TD/interception ratio.

Joe Douglas it was said was the Baltimore scout who pounded the table for the Ravens to draft Flacco out of Delaware so he obviously knows Joe Flacco very well and trusts him.

Just because the pros section of this article is short does not mean that I am diminishing the career of Joe Flacco or I am taking his achievements lightly. On the contrary, to have over 100 wins and to rank as #15 on the list of most wins by a starting QB in NFL history is a significant accomplishment for anyone who has put on a helmet for an NFL team. Joe Flacco might not be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but any player today coming into the NFL would be lucky to have that type of career. It is a testament to his work ethic, his toughness, and his perseverance to play as well as he has for as long as he has.

The Cons

His longevity is one of the pros, but it can be looked on as a con as well. Joe is going to be 35 years old this year so he isn’t going to change his style of play dramatically. He will hold the ball too long on occasion to try to make a big play when he could dump it off to save a sack.

Joe has never played under Gase and as such the offense will be new to him. He has played in a few different systems during his career, but the Gase offense may be far from what he is used to playing. He will need to learn the verbiage as well as an entire new playbook without the normal practice time.

Joe was also never considered a mobile QB during his youth and is now more of a statue in the pocket who is a sitting duck for edge rushers. The Jets have made offensive line improvements on paper, but that group has yet to play a single down together. It will take time for that group to coalesce which could take most of the season. Joe was sacked 26 times in 8 games in Denver last year. He was sacked on 9% of his pass attempts in 2019 which was by far the highest in his career.

Joe will not be ready for the start of the season which put a huge question mark on this signing. “I can’t speak to exactly when I’m going to be ready, but it will not be day one,” he recently said. He is recovering from neck surgery and will not be cleared for contact until at least mid September which is only a possible time frame. He could be out much longer or even be put on the PUP list to start the year which means he could miss the first 6 games. Until he is cleared he will not be able to practice with the team. He has only recently resumed throwing so he is not near to be in “football shape.”

Joe has started every game he has played in his career. He has never come off the bench to relieve a struggling starter or replaced an injured QB. It is sort of like a relief pitcher in baseball coming off the bench cold to enter an NFL game is sort of an art form. You need to be able to step in at a moment’s notice to take over an offense without it missing a beat. This is easier said than done. I am not saying Joe can’t do that, but he has never done that before so his ability to do so is a mystery.

There are people loyal to the Ravens who thought Joe Flacco held the team back more than he led them. Baltimore has had a talented team for years with Ozzie Newsome as GM. Even in their Super Bowl season they lost 4 out of their last 5 games, losing a first round bye on the last day of the year to Cincinnati. Many were calling for Flacco to be replaced, but he then had one of the greatest postseasons in NFL history by winning 4 straight games, throwing for 1,140 yards, 11 TDs and zero INTs.

The Ravens re-signed Flacco to a $120.6 million six year contract after the Super Bowl win. Since that point Flacco has a 44 wins and 47 loss record with 116 TDs and 85 INTs in his career. This includes a 6-11 record with 18 TDs and 11 INTs the last two years.

Flacco isn’t exactly the warm fuzzy type of QB who will help out a young QB on the roster either. He was upset that the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson. After the pick Flacco refused to talk with reporters, and Jackson reportedly never even talked to Flacco in the weeks after the Draft.

When he went to Denver he made it clear he wasn’t going to mentor Drew Lock. “I got so many things to worry about,” Flacco told reporters. “I’m trying to go out there and play good football. I’m trying to go out there and play the best football of my life. As far as a time constraint and all stuff, I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that. That is what it is, and like I said, I hope he does develop. But I don’t look at that as my job. I’m not a selfish person, I don’t think, there are times where you have to be selfish.”

Who else was available to sign if not Joe Flacco?

Cam Newton

Newton would probably not sign to be a backup or for the $1.5 million + Joe Flacco signed for. He will not get a starting job this year, especially when teams cannot get their doctors to examine Cam. Yet Cam will want a shot to become a starter in the future which would probably not happen with the Jets.

Matt Moore

Moore has played under Gase in the past so he would be able to learn the Jets system relatively quickly if signed. He will be 36 years old this year but does still have good mobility. He would come in fairly cheap which helps plus he has backup experience. Last year he came in for an injured Patrick Mahomes and went 1-1 with Kansas City. He threw for 659 yards completing almost 65% of his passes with 4 TDs and no INTs. He has started only 32 of 55 games he has played in. He has limited upside and he is not a candidate to be around a long time.

Blake Bortles

Bortles is still only 28 years old so he could view the Jets as a good home where he could become a starter once again if Sam Darnold fails to become the franchise QB everyone hopes he will be. He would probably sign for the same money as Flacco, and he has some possible upside as a player albeit just a little. He does have starting experience and he would be better than Fales or Siemian the Jets had last year.

Cody Kessler

Kessler is a weak option, but he does have experience as a starting QB. He also would come in as a cheap alternative. He could be an option as a career back up if he does relatively well in his first year. He is still only 27 years old with decent mobility so while he is not the best option he could be as good as Flacco possibly.

Josh McCown

McCown is 41 years old and on his last legs as an NFL player, but he is a solid option. He played relatively well with the Eagles last year and is a gamer who will give you all he has. He also has been around a long time. He is smart and works well with Sam Darnold. I am sure Sam would be thrilled to have Josh back in the QB room to aid in his development. McCown can still sling it and has good mobility plus he is tough as nails.

Summary

While I am not declaring the signing a failure, it is curious that Joe Douglas signed a guy who will not be ready to play by the season opener. If this is the case the Jets might have to carry 4 QBs on the roster in case Sam Darnold gets hurt. James Morgan will not be ready to play early in the year. That leaves David Fales as the lone backup to come into the game if Sam gets hurt.

While Joe Douglas seems to be a breath of fresh air after the stagnant years of Maccagnan he does make some head scratching moves that will leave you guessing. You never know what he is going to do so we wait to see what the next move is.

So what do you think of the Joe Flacco signing?