Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Jets are desperate to change the negative narrative that continues to suffocate them.
If only the Jets were as good at playing football as they are at creating negative narratives around themselves.
Here’s where we are with the 2-7 Jets entering Sunday’s home game against the Dolphins:
Their defense has allowed 175 points in the past four games.
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, their prized No. 2-overall draft pick, is about to miss his fourth consecutive game with a right knee injury.
Wilson’s backup, Mike White, after becoming the coolest feel-good sports story in New York for a couple of weeks, was unceremoniously benched by head coach Robert Saleh on Wednesday — two days after Saleh lectured reporters about being too quick to write him off.
Enter 36-year-old Joe Flacco, the veteran quarterback the Jets should have had on their roster before the season. When Flacco starts against the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium he will be the fourth quarterback to play for the Jets in only their 10th game of the season.
Flacco started four games for the Jets in 2020 and lost all of them, including a 24-0 defeat to the Dolphins. Flacco’s last win as a starting quarterback came on Oct. 13, 2019 with the Broncos. Dating back to his Denver days and including last season with the Jets, Flacco has lost his past six starts.
So, if you’re a Jets fan seeking a savior in Flacco, you might want to look behind Door No. 2.
Make no mistake: White was awful in last week’s 45-17 loss to the Bills, throwing four interceptions, three of which led to Buffalo touchdowns.
But you can’t help but wonder if Mike “effing’’ White got “effed’’ by being benched based on how well he had played in the five quarters before the Bills game, and based on the way Saleh publicly pumped him up on Monday.
Certainly, the way the team has behaved during this entire fiasco since announcing the switch to Flacco makes you wonder whether they realize they’re screwing White.
Because, despite three consecutive days of media requests to speak to White — who is the most team-oriented player in the locker room and zero danger to go off with a single negative word about the team for benching him — the Jets refused to make him available.
That run-and-hide act — remember how Saleh promised to be “transparent’’ when he was hired? — does two things: It perpetuates the story the team wants to go away, and it makes the Jets look small.
So, now the Jets hope and pray that Flacco performs well against a Dolphins defense that last week made Lamar Jackson, the Ravens quarterback who happens to be one of the most dynamic players in the league, look like a confused rookie.
Because the only way the Jets are going to change their negative narrative is by winning a football game.
The Jets badly want you to forget about the clumsy way in which they mishandled their quarterback situation this week. The only way that’s going to happen is if Flacco plays well Sunday and the Jets win.
If those things don’t happen, you can mark it down right now that the home crowd — whomever bothers to show up — will be chanting “Mike White, Mike White, Mike White’’ the same way they were when White was leading the Jets to that upset win over Cincinnati.
On Friday, the third consecutive day the Jets ignored media requests to speak with White, Saleh said White has been “awesome’’ since getting the disappointing news of his benching Wednesday.
“Players naturally, they have their feelings, but I thought he had a really good day [Thursday],’’ Saleh said. “Tremendous energy to him. He talked some smack to the defense, interacting with Joe [Flacco] and talking about the game plan, talking to Josh [Johnson] and Zach [Wilson] as it pertains to the game plan, also. He’s been exactly who he’s been since the day we’ve walked in.’’
There certainly is a level of curiosity surrounding Flacco and what he might bring based on his strong career body of work, which includes winning a Super Bowl MVP.
“Joe is serious, man, he’s locked in, he asks the right questions,’’ Saleh said. “I’ve got tremendous confidence in him. He’s a professional. He’s been there he’s done that, and I think he’s really excited to get out there and show it.’’
If he does and it results in a win, the narrative changes for the Jets.
At least temporarily.
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