On Monday afternoon, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported that New York Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold is out indefinitely with a throwing-shoulder injury. This being the same injury that has been lingering since taking a big hit again the Denver Broncos in Week 4. Simply put – this comes as disappointing news. Darnold, the former third overall pick, will miss a career-high four games this season. Now starting his fourth game for the Jets is former Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco. With Darnold out an extended period of time, here is what the Jets should expect from the aging veteran…
What to Expect From Joe Flacco-Led New York Jets Offense Going Forward
Through Three Flacco Starts
Again, this is not Darnold’s first week out due to injury this season. Flacco will be making his fourth start this season, being 0-3 in the first three. In the first two games, the offense accounted for 10 points against the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins, who both have young and rising defenses in the NFL. It seemed as if Flacco had little left in the tank.
That was until last Monday against the New England Patriots, where Flacco had one of his better games in recent memory. He led an efficient offense in the first three quarters before the team ultimately fell apart and blew their lead in the fourth. Flacco finished his night going 18 for 25 for 262 yards with three touchdowns to one killer interception. What was most impressive was his arm, as Flacco was not afraid to air it out, and when he did, he did it well.
Certainly, Flacco is not going to light anybody up with his harm. However, having now settled in following back surgery last season, he seems to be getting more comfortable in head coach Adam Gase’s offense.
How the Offense Has Functioned
This season, the New York Jets offense has been putrid. Their scoring differential is minus 147, giving up an average of 29.8 points per game to their 13.4. Additionally, the Jets average 266 yards of total offense per game, good for dead last in the league by a hefty 40-yard margin. Nevertheless, coming off of an encouraging defeat prior to their bye, there are signs of improvement.
With Flacco, the Jets have seen a quarterback better adjusted to Gase’s scheme, who offers 175 games worth of experience. His knowledge of what he can do was shown against New England, as the deep ball finally became a factor. He took full advantage of the Jets top three receivers, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, and Breshad Perriman all being healthy at the same time for the first time in 2020. In fact, the trio accounted for 11 receptions, totaling 189 yards and a touchdown.
Not only should the receiving game continue to produce solid numbers, but the blocking up front too. After a horrendous start, guards Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten have improved in recent weeks. Even center Connor McGovern has done a better job up front. If rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton stays healthy going forward, the run game could develop a nice groove. Against the Patriots, Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine ripped off a few nice runs behind quality blocking.
Jets’ Upcoming Schedule
This week, the New York Jets will travel to Inglewood, California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. While Darnold is out indefinitely, Flacco will at least be starting Week 11 against Los Angeles. The Chargers, despite being 2-8, are one of the most competitive teams in football, led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. With one of the better defenses in football, the Jets offense will have little room for error.
Following the Chargers game, the Jets play back-to-back home games against playoff contenders in the Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. The last time the Jets met the Dolphins, Miami shut out Flacco and the Jets offense. One of the hottest teams in football, scoring points against Miami would be a win in itself for the Jets. Meanwhile, against the Raiders, scoring may come a bit easier. Las Vegas has been very inconsistent on defense this season, and the Jets deep ball combination with Mims and Perriman could cause problems.
Last Word on What to Expect from a Joe Flacco-Led New York Jets Offense
Coming out of their bye week at 0-9, the Jets are without their starting quarterback Sam Darnold for the foreseeable future. And while veteran backup Joe Flacco had a rough start, the Jets should expect a more competitive offense going forward. Chances are Flacco starting will not result in wins for Gang Green. But at the very least, it will offer a chance for their younger offensive pieces to develop for 2021.