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Jets' Joe Flacco Is Still Proving Things Every Time He Goes Out

Veteran QB Will Start for an Injured Sam Darnold at the Chargers on Sunday


Age had its privilege growing up in the Flacco household in South Jersey.

As the oldest of five brothers, Joe Flacco established his move and his brothers, mostly, followed along like furiously paddling ducklings.

"It's interesting, I don't know if it's a common thing when you're the oldest brother to jump out ahead," Flacco told The Official Jets Podcast. "I definitely think that being the oldest molds your personality in a certain way. It's given me a sense of allowing me to brush off things easier and not be as emotional.

"Growing up all my siblings were coming after me and trying to take me off the mountain, being the oldest. I got used to them being emotional and trying to beat me. I was still the best. My brother, who was two years younger, thinks he's got a leg up on me. But at the end of the day I know he doesn't.

"Things like that mold personality. A lot of that is born in me. I see it with my own kids. Birth order matters is my perspective on it. I grew up with the practice of keeping my emotions in check no matter how hard or easy things are, I guess that comes from dealing with other peoples' emotions."

So, there's a bit of insight into where Flacco's nickname -- Joe Cool -- comes from. But what is his family's nickname for the veteran NFL quarterback?

"I don't think you want to know," he said. "Call me whatever you want. Whatever you want to call me, I'll let you do it. Just call me Joe."

And for the fourth time this season, the Jets (0-9) will call "just Joe" the starting quarterback when the team plays the first of three games on the West Coast this season, facing the Los Angeles Chargers (2-7) on Sunday. Flacco will again get the call because Sam Darnold will miss his second straight game with a sore right shoulder.

Flacco, 35, joined the Jets this season after a cup of coffee with Denver last season and coming off neck surgery that nearly scuttled his professional career. Darnold initially injured the shoulder against the Broncos in a Thursday night game, and Flacco took a few snaps before Darnold returned. With Darnold out the next week, Flacco got his first start, against Arizona, and confessed to being rusty. He played again the following week against Miami.

When Darnold aggravated the shoulder injury against Kansas City, Flacco got the call in a Monday night clash against New England on Nov. 9, his best game of the season, so far, as he completed 18 of 25 for 262 yards and 3 TDs while also passing Joe Montana for 20th on the career passing yards list.

"That's the core thing, not the number of yards, but the fact that Montana was a guy you recently passed," Flacco said. "Everyone holds him up, obviously, in that conversation for being the best who ever played. Whenever you're in his arena it adds to the value of it."

The success of Flacco and the Jets' offense against the Patriots created some much needed energy before the team's open date last weekend.

"I think ultimately it's about proving things to people every time you go out and have success, to prove to myself over and over," he said. "You have to constantly go out there and pass the test and get your confidence level higher. The first two games were a good little ramp up, I did some good things and it helped me to play free. We played a good team game, it's a shame we were not able to finish it out. We wanted to win the football game. The fact that we didn't finish out was tough. It was a good challenge for me to get out there and start to feel it again."

Flacco forged a couple of highlights in the late loss to New England that included a brilliant touch pass to Jamison Crowder who tiptoed inside the end zone sideline for a score; plus two TD passes to his former Baltimore teammate Breshad Perriman. What's more, his downfield efforts sent a message that defenses playing man coverage and rushing hard against the Jets might now pay the price.

"I think it was really important, especially against teams that are about to come up and press us," Flacco said. "The more we can get going the more we can put fear into people. Maybe we'll start to see more zone, easier completions and move the ball with less resistance. It allows the possibility of big plays and all of those things. It makes the protection better and keeps everyone healthy."

And, finally, as a South Jersey guy now playing in North Jersey, Flacco deals with the soaring issues of competition between the regions. And the major issue of our time: Is it Pork Roll or Taylor Ham?

"Basically, it's between New York and Philly, the rest of us are living in the suburbs," he said.

As for the pork-based processed meat, it's Taylor Ham (a trade name) in the North and Pork Roll in the South.

"I knew what Pork Roll was, Taylor is a brand name," Flacco said. "Up here I'm not sure people know what Pork Roll is. They just call Taylor."

... And they can just call him Joe.

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