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Jets to start Joe Flacco at QB at season end

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FLORHAM PARK, NJ — In a final twist on their ever-changing quarterback situation, the New York Jets decided to start Joe Flacco — not Mike White — in their last game on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

White was ruled out on Friday after aggravating an anterior rib injury in a late first-half sack in Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, according to coach Robert Saleh.

“He is in a lot of pain,” Saleh said, adding that the injury “clearly affected his ability to throw the ball” in the second half.

Former starter Zach Wilson, inactive last week, will be the second quarterback.

Explaining why he chose Flacco over Wilson, Saleh said he wants Wilson, twice on the bench, to focus on in 2023. A muddled situation on the offensive line likely also played into the decision. Left tackle Duane Brown (shoulder), right tackle George Fant (knee) and right guard Nate Herbig (calf) – all starters – have been ruled out.

“I want to get him into the offseason so we can attack the plan we’re building,” Saleh said of Wilson. “Putting him in there now won’t do him any good; it won’t do anyone any good. For Zach, it’s all about ’23.”

The Jets could have three quarterbacks for the game if they lift Chris Streveler off the practice squad, as they have in the past two weeks.

The game has no playoff implications for the Jets (7-9), who were eliminated last week after their fifth straight loss. It has some symmetry, though. They started the season with Flacco because of an injury, and now they’re going to end it with him for the same reason.

Flacco, 37, has yet to decide his future, so this could be the last game of his distinguished career, which includes a Super Bowl MVP award with the Baltimore Ravens.

New York will finish the season with three quarterbacks starting at least four games each – Flacco (four), White (four) and Wilson (nine).

This marked the second time in the past four weeks that White was ruled out on a Friday because of his fractured ribs. After being injured on December 11th, he was preparing to start next week, but was unable to get clearance from the doctors. He ended up missing two games as Wilson stepped in after being benched.

Wilson was benched again when Saleh returned to White in last week’s clincher against the Seahawks. White threw two interceptions and completed just 23 of 46 passes for 240 yards as he looked affected by the rib injury.

Saleh said he doesn’t question his decision to play White in such an important game.

“He felt great and looked great in the first half and then it got worse,” Saleh said. “You can play the hypothetical: was it a mistake? He still played good football in the first half. But we knew the risk that if it got compounded it wouldn’t be good – and it got compounded again.”

On Monday, Saleh said White “should be ready for Sunday,” but red flags went up when the Jets canceled White’s regular media availability on Thursday. The injury report later said he was downgraded to “Limited” in practice. Saleh was unavailable on Thursday.

So the Jets return to Flacco, who started the first three games after Wilson had preseason knee surgery. He won one of three games, throwing five touchdowns and three interceptions. He played seven snaps in the Dec. 11 loss to the Buffalo Bills, looking rusty and awkward off a strip sack.

Overall, Flacco has a QBR of 28.8, which ranks 37th out of 38 passers with a minimum of 150 attempts.

White’s time with the Jets may be over, as he will be an unrestricted free agent. He finished the season with a 1-3 record, along with 3 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, a 59% completion rate, 1,192 yards, and a 37.5 QBR.