(CBSNewYork)- The New York Jets brought in veteran quarterback Joe Flacco last week on a one-year deal to serve as the backup to starting quarterback Sam Darnold. It’s a bit of an unfamiliar situation for the 35-year-old who has entered every season of his 12-year career as the unquestioned starting quarterback for the team he was on.
But, despite the change in role, Flacco is upbeat, telling reporters on Thursday that he is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win including serving as the mentor for Darnold.
“I’m embracing it. It’s where I am right now and I’m glad to be on a team playing football in some capacity. I think it’s going to be huge to get in there and develop a relationship with the guys and do anything I can to help the team get better,” said Flacco. “And in that process, help Sam with whatever he needs help with. Take his mind off of something or tell him how I see things or how I’ve dealt with this in the past. Even if it’s something that is on the football field or off the football field.”
Flacco has found himself in the mentoring position before, albeit due to injuries the last two seasons. In his final year in Baltimore in 2018, his injury nine games into the season paved the way for now reigning MVP Lamar Jackson to take over the starting job. Last season in Denver, Flacco started the first eight games of the year before a neck injury forced him out of the lineup and eventually saw rookie Drew Lock step into his place over the final month of the year.
Flacco told reporters that embracing that team mentality is just part of the responsibility that comes with playing a team game like football.
“When you’re on a team and you’ve always played team sports, you’re used to doing what’s good for the team. And it doesn’t really matter the fact that my role is a little bit different at this point,” said Flacco. “You’re still trying to help the team and be part of the team and that’s all good.”
He did say later in the meeting with reporters that he still believes he is a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL. But, he acknowledged at this moment, that’s not his role, instead it is to help Darnold get better in his journey to be a “long-time starting quarterback.
Flacco is still recovering from surgery to repair the injured disc in his neck, though he is hoping to be cleared sometime in September.