Revolving door at QB ruined season for Jets, other NFL teams

Feb 7, 2023, 12:22 AM | Updated: 6:16 pm

New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (19) aims a pass during the first half of an NFL football game...

New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (19) aims a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets’ season began with aging Joe Flacco starting at quarterback. It ended the same way.

And that was the problem.

Well, along with all of the other switching, struggling, injuries and inconsistency at QB in between.

It sent what appeared to be a Jets squad on the brink of ending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to a 7-10 record, more disappointment and offseason uncertainty. One pivotal area — as it was for other clubs that fell short, such as the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers — was quarterback.

“It’s the head of the snake,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “And if you’re not getting consistent play or consistent movement from the head of the snake, it’s not going to be good.”

It certainly wasn’t for the Jets, who were downright snakebit — just as some say they’ve been since Joe Namath delivered the franchise its only Super Bowl title after the 1968 season.

New York made five changes at quarterback: Flacco to Zach Wilson to Mike White, back to Wilson, back to White, back to Flacco.

The Jets certainly weren’t alone with that sort of revolving door: NFL teams combined to start 68 quarterbacks — the most in the Super Bowl era in a non-strike year. A league-record 13 teams used three or more starting QBs. In contrast, nine of 14 playoff teams had their preferred starter available for every game.

Like the Jets, Tennessee and Carolina went 7-10.

The Titans were 12-5 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season, when Ryan Tannehill started every game at quarterback. This season? He missed five starts overall after injuring his right ankle in late October and then again in December, so playing time went to rookie Malik Willis and little-used veteran Josh Dobbs, contributing to a fall from 7-3 and first place in the AFC South to a seven-game skid.

Not a coincidence.

“This is a quarterback-driven league, and people are hired and fired every day over that position,” new Titans GM Ran Carthon said. “I want to spend more time evaluating that position.”

The Panthers went through a trio of starting QBs — Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker — and all three missed time because of ankle or foot injuries. That’s aside from rookie Matt Corral, who was lost in the preseason with — yes, you guessed it — a foot injury. The Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start before making a late playoff push under interim coach Steve Wilks. He was cast aside for new hire Frank Reich, who might take a QB with the draft’s No. 9 pick.

“Quarterback is, I stand by, the most important position in all sports,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said. “But ultimately, it’s a team sport and you have to have a great group of people around them to support them.”

Tough to do when quarterback is the weak link.

Flacco, now 38, started the first three games while Wilson sat with a preseason knee injury. Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, had a few good moments overshadowed by plenty of bad over the next seven games.

Still, the Jets were 6-4 and in the playoff hunt with a top defense and AP Rookie of the Year finalists in cornerback Sauce Gardner and receiver Garrett Wilson.

But the season spiraled from there. Zach Wilson got benched, and White delivered a slight spark before being sidelined with broken ribs. After Zach Wilson returned for two games, White gave it another shot, but aggravated his injury.

New York went back to Flacco and the season ended with six losses in a row — and a franchise-record 12th consecutive year without the playoffs.

“We’ve all had a long wait: 54 years from the last Super Bowl is too long,” owner Woody Johnson said. “Way too long. I’d like to change that fast.”

With the Jets among the league’s worst offenses for two seasons and Zach Wilson failing to develop as expected, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was fired. He was replaced by Nathaniel Hackett, who didn’t make it through one season as Denver’s head coach but is tasked with jumpstarting New York’s offense after Saleh interviewed more than 15 candidates.

Now the focus becomes quarterback. And Johnson said he’s “absolutely” willing to pay big bucks for a franchise-type QB.

“We’ve got a (salary) cap, so you’ve got an amount you can spend,” Johnson said. “But yeah, that’s kind of the missing piece.”

Has been since those glory days of Broadway Joe.


AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow and Teresa M. Walker, and AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Revolving door at QB ruined season for Jets, other NFL teams