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Mike White to make first NFL start Sunday, but rest of Jets' QB situation remains unclear

Jets quarterback Mike White (5) on the line

Jets quarterback Mike White (5) on the line of scrimmage, after replacing Zach Wilson, during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass.  Credit: AP/Mary Schwalm

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mike White will get his first NFL start on Sunday when the Jets play the Bengals. Everything else regarding the quarterback position for the Jets is up in the air.

Robert Saleh named White the starter Wednesday with Zach Wilson sidelined the next 2-4 weeks with a sprained right PCL. But Saleh wouldn’t rule out newly acquired backup Joe Flacco starting next Thursday’s game in Indianapolis.

Flacco has to join the Jets first.

The Jets traded a sixth-round pick to the Eagles for Flacco on Monday. But Saleh said Flacco won’t report until Friday for "personal reasons." So it will be the Mike White Show — for one game at least

"We have a lot of faith in Mike," Saleh said. "Mike has done a hell of a job. He has earned this right to go out there and play on Sunday and show what he’s capable of."

White made his NFL debut Sunday, replacing Wilson in the first half of the Jets’ 54-13 loss in New England. A fifth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2018, White was 20-for-32 for 202 yards, one touchdown pass and two interceptions.

Saleh wouldn’t say White is game-to-game. But the Jets coach described himself as "a day-to-day guy" and left the door wide open for Flacco to start against the Colts.

"We’ll see how it goes," Saleh said. "We’ll see how everything goes with regards to [Flacco] absorbing the offense and all that stuff."

Flacco has some knowledge and experience in the system, having played in similar ones under Gary Kubiak with the Ravens and Rich Scangarello in one season with Denver. "The recall should happen quick," Saleh said.

Saleh said that Flacco makes the Jets’ quarterback room stronger, or he will eventually. Saleh said the Jets knew when they traded for Flacco that he would miss the first two practices of the week. Flacco is participating in meetings virtually, according to Saleh.

It is puzzling that the Jets would do the deal knowing that Flacco wouldn’t report immediately. Also if Wilson misses only two games as the Jets hope, general manager Joe Douglas will have traded a draft pick for potentially one game with Flacco on the field.

"No, I wouldn’t say that," Saleh said.

It became more confusing because Saleh initially said that Flacco "more than likely" would be inactive on Sunday. Saleh said that Josh Johnson would be elevated from the practice squad to the active roster and "be ready to go if he has to step in." But then Saleh backtracked and said Flacco could be active.

"He’s going to practice on Friday, so he’ll be here," Saleh said. "We’ll see how that goes.

"When he gets here Friday, we’ll go day-to-day. We’re assuming the worst [with Wilson]. We’re still trying to make sure that that quarterback room is exactly where we need it to be. Zach got hurt, an opportunity came and it’s a good one. So we took advantage of it."

The Jets still haven’t determined whether Wilson will go on injured reserve. He would miss a minimum of three games if he does.

Saleh said the Jets are waiting to see how Wilson’s knee responds this week, and whether his strength and range of motion would lead doctors to believe he can play Nov. 14 against the Bills.

Until then it will be White or Flacco or a little bit of both.

The Jets had a chance to sign a proven veteran quarterback in the offseason to help mentor Wilson and be well-versed in the offense in case of emergency. They eventually signed Johnson.

Saleh said they gave some thought to just rolling with White and Johnson, but then Douglas was presented with the opportunity to acquire Flacco.

"We took advantage of it," Saleh said. "I feel like we’re in a good situation with getting Flacco. We got good stability in the quarterback room. Now we just got to go play."

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