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NFL insider notebook: Jets botching QB situation (again), plus Jon Gruden suing the NFL and Week 11 picks

That the New York Jets have to turn to 36-year-old, unvaccinated, been-with-the-team-less-than-a-month Joe Flacco says just about everything you need it to for this franchise.

On Tuesday night the Jets rang Flacco, for whom they traded in late October, to tell him he’d start Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He can handle the blitzing better than young Mike White, and with Zach Wilson out, he’s their only hope. Or so it goes.

It shows just how bad off this franchise is. It has mangled its quarterback position at various points across a decade and a couple of general managers, including current GM Joe Douglas. Not that Wilson isn’t the long-term answer — he might be! and it’s far too early to make that assessment — but that this is what they have when the No. 2 overall pick misses a few weeks is putrid.

The Jets said they wanted Flacco back once Robert Saleh took over as head coach. But the former Super Bowl MVP wasn’t going to wait around on what the franchise would do with Sam Darnold, so he signed with Philadelphia in late March. About two weeks later, the Jets traded Darnold to Carolina, and the entire league knew they’d be selecting Wilson after the Jaguars took Trevor Lawrence.

So the J-E-T-S went without a veteran in the room for months. It’s not like Flacco is Josh McCown, jumping at the chance to mentor a younger guy, but at least a veteran could have shown the rookie the ropes. Instead the Jets played contract games with Wilson and forced him to miss the start of training camp.

Fast-forward to the midpoint in the season: White’s first five quarters looked better than any five quarters Wilson put on tape. The knee injury has already sidelined Wilson for three games, but Saleh, as recently as this week, called Wilson “day-to-day.”

But…

Calling Flacco on Tuesday to give him the starting job, and stating Wednesday that White will be the backup, inherently means that Wilson is not day-to-day. Unless you’re using some sort of funky, Genesis 1 meaning for the word “day.”

The Jets feel Flacco’s experience gives him a better shot against the Dolphins than a young, prospective QB in White or a hobbled Wilson. And I don’t mind they aren’t playing Wilson. Whether he’s healthy enough to go or not, it seemed clear he needed a rookie reset anyway. Take another week off if needed.

But to not see what you have in White? To start an immobile Flacco against a blitz-heavy Dolphins defense that’s on the rise? It must be because of Flacco’s experience against Miami, right?

“Well listen, it wasn’t like they were lining up crazy and bringing guys from, oh, they’re chilling over here and bringing over here and then they’re doing the opposite,” Flacco said of watching film of the Dolphins. “It looks like the last couple of weeks, and I can go back to when we played them last year in Miami and I was playing in that game.”

Except… Flacco went 21-of-44 for 186 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. They sent at least one extra pass-rusher 23 times. They pressured Flacco 17 times in total.

“Last year is irrelevant,” Saleh said to that point. “Completely different O-line, different receivers, different coach, different coordinator, different everything.”

Lastly, the Jets brought in an unvaccinated backup quarterback midway through the season. I’m not sure how many unvaccinated players were traded for this year, but it can’t be many. Flacco brought (and brings) with him the threat of being out for a week due to being a close contact, as well as being more susceptible to testing positive himself and threatening the entire quarterbacks room. A mind-numbing decision all around.

So Flacco goes out Sunday, not as the Jets’ best hope to win, but as the best hope to not lose the game by 40. And he likely won’t be there next year. And White, who may very well be with the Jets next year, will be on the sidelines.

And the Jets will be no better for any of this.

Gruden lawsuit

I do not at all get the sense the NFL is shaking in its boots at the sight of the Jon Gruden lawsuit.

It was an obvious lawsuit for Gruden to file, and although there are some Very Serious Words in there, folks I speak with don’t imagine it’ll amount to much. The league contends it didn’t leak the emails, and the contents of those emails would get most people in high-profile jobs canned in 2021.

Perhaps the league settles with Gruden to make it go away. It may even be likely, considering the league’s propensity to do such a thing. But don’t expect this to be a protracted suit that takes years.

Week 11 picks

Another ho-hum week for me at 7-6-1, where I picked some good upsets but missed on the others. That’s OK, though. My season-long record improves to 96-53-1 (thanks Pittsburgh) as we move into Week 11. On Thursday, I took the rejuvenated Patriots.

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

I know Frank Reich will have some good stuff dialed up for his old team, but I don’t think it’s going to matter that much. The league’s best defense is going to leave Carson Wentz befuddled.

The pick: Bills

Football Team at Panthers

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here

I cannot wait for this game. As much as I want to see Ron Rivera get the win back in Charlotte, it’s hard to trust Taylor Heinicke on a week-to-week basis. Also… Cam has to win, right?

The pick: Panthers

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

The Eagles are playing extremely well right now and Jalen Hurts is better than folks allowed a month ago. But Dennis Allen’s defense is playing too well right now for whatever Nick Sirianni has cooked up.

The pick: Saints

Which picks can you make with confidence, and which Super Bowl contender goes down hard this week? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams will win and cover the spread, all from a model that has returned almost $7,500 since its inception.

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