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Mike White is unavailable for Jets, so Joe Flacco will start over Zach Wilson to close out season

Joe Flacco started the first three games for the Jets and was 91 of 155 passing for 901 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets will have one final quarterback twist in a season filled with them.

Joe Flacco will start Sunday against the Miami Dolphins with Mike White ruled out after aggravating his rib injury. Zach Wilson will serve as Flacco’s backup.

“He’s just in a lot of pain,” coach Robert Saleh said Friday.

White returned last Sunday after missing two games with broken ribs, but was mostly ineffective in New York’s 23-6 loss at Seattle. He finished 23 of 46 with no touchdowns and two interceptions, clearly still affected by his ribs.

Saleh said White’s ribs “really bothered him” after he took a sack on the last play of the first half.


“Even going into the second half, which clearly affected his ability to throw the ball,” Saleh said. “Watching tape, he played really well in the first half, but was a little off in the second half.”

White was estimated as a full participant at Wednesday’s walk-through practice. But he was limited at practice Thursday, putting into question his availability for the game.

“He just wasn’t feeling right,” Saleh said.

It’s the Jets' fifth quarterback change during the regular season because of injuries or poor play.

Flacco, who turns 38 on Jan. 16, started the first three games this season in place of an injured Wilson. He went 91 of 155 for 901 yards and 5 touchdowns — including four against Cleveland in Week 2 — with three interceptions.

His most recent appearance came at Buffalo on Dec. 11 when he filled in briefly for the injured White, who suffered broken ribs. White was twice forced out of the game after taking big hits, was cleared to return both times to the 20-12 loss, but then missed the next two games.

Despite starting just three games, Flacco needs just two TD passes Sunday to surpass Wilson as the Jets' leader in that category.


“He’s just been a professional through all the chaos of the season,” Saleh said. “I really respect him and what he stands for. Joe’s like a Ford pickup truck — you may not appreciate him in September and October and November because there’s nothing flashy in his game. But when December and January hit and the weather’s kind of [lousy], he’s still freakin’ rolling.

“So that's Joe, and I have a genuine appreciation for him.”

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, has struggled during his first two NFL seasons and been benched twice this season. Saleh decided to start Flacco over Wilson in the season finale with the Jets sitting at 7-9 and having lost five straight with their playoff drought hitting an NFL-worst 12 straight years.

“With Zach, call it a coach’s decision,” Saleh said. “I’m going to stay firm with him and make sure he gets to attack this offseason. I just want to get him to the offseason so we can start and attack the plan that we’ve been building. Putting him out there right now, it’s not going to do him any good. It’s not going to do anyone any good. For him, for Zach, it’s all about ‘23.”