Joe Flacco ran into an old Baltimore coach in Don "Wink" Martindale, or more specifically he ran into Martindale's defense as the Giants' new coordinator. Flacco was upbeat as always but surely had mixed emotions over the reunion since he's the Jets QB for now and Wink's Giants were bringing the heat during the teams' joint practice Thursday.
"I saw a lot of that obviously for 11 years, some form of that stuff," said Flacco, who was on the opposite side of the line than Martindale when they went at it as teammates during Ravens practices from 2012-18. "And it's good. It puts you in a little different mindset and teaches you to just go play football.
"Like today, they like to walk up and walk around a lot and you have to ID everybody. If they get you to slow down a little bit and start thinking and not playing football, they have a little victory right there. So you learn a little bit about yourself and how to attack that kind of stuff. It's a good reminder that we're just playing football, we don't have to be rocket scientists out there and be perfect with everything. If you run your base stuff and play quick, that can sometimes negate some of those things."
Flacco handled the pressure fairly well, completing a little more than half his throws in team drills and with two going for touchdowns, to veteran Corey Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson. He also threw a pick.
At least for Thursday, head coach Robert Saleh said it was a "very productive day" for his offense.
"We weren't game-planning anything, it was more just run our stuff," Saleh said. "We're still in camp mode. [The Giants] have an exotic pressure system. It wasn't as much about protection as it was about route-running. just the precision of what we trying get done."
"You're going to have some things where, 'Oh, man, they got us there,' " Flacco said. "But it's a good opportunity to just see where you're at, play some football, get some confidence, and just give some work to some guys that maybe haven't seen this type of stuff before."
It gets more serious Sunday afternoon, when the Jets and Giants play their 53rd preseason game in the last 54 summers. Flacco will this time get the start for the rehabbing Zach Wilson, and the Giants rushers won't just be running past Flacco if they get through the Jets' protection.
What comes to mind perhaps was a Sunday sack by the Giants vs. the Bengals. They lined up six at the LOS before the snap, then dropped three off and added only one more rusher. But that was CB Khalil Dorsey, who got in cleanly and took backup QB Brandon Allen to the MetLife turf.
See the Green & White on the field with the Giants during joint practice.
Flacco has a task that might seem unenviable to anyone who isn't entering his 15th year of pro ball. But it's Joe's only playing time of the preseason before he possibly will run the Jets offense for Zach against the now Wink-less Ravens on opening day, Sept. 11. And as Saleh has said, the Flacco and the first-teamers will be getting only a quarter to a half to develop the cohesion they'll need to brace for Baltimore.
Fortunately, Flacco's got lots of skill at the Jets' skill positions to help him out. To name a few, he's got Michael Carter and Breece Hall to hand the ball off to or throw to out of the backfield, and his receivers include TEs C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin and WRs Elijah Moore, Davis and Garrett Wilson.
G.Wilson, who had three catches in all at the joint practice, has caught the veteran signal-caller's eye.
"We've got a lot of really good athletes out there, and he's one of them," Flacco said. "The first day I was here for OTAs, you could see it — he jumps off the film, in person. The way he can break down and explode out of cuts, it's amazing. And his vertical and his ability to go up and get a ball when he's standing still or when he's going top speed, he can just, on a dime, switch and go up in the air and get balls, it's very impressive."
So, too, is Flacco, who talks about learning every day as if he's a rookie like Garrett rather than having been in, oh, maybe a couple of thousand practices and a couple of hundred games as a pro.
Saleh doesn't want media and fans to forget about Mike White, and then there's Chris Streveler, the CFL Comeback Kid. But Sunday's game, while about many things, is about Flacco and how he can inject his composure and experience into what will surely be nerve-wracking game for many Jets on Sunday, and have it all carry over to an even more anxiety-filled affair two weeks later vs. the Birds.
"He's just a calming influence back there," Saleh said of Flacco. "He's very confident, runs the huddle, everyone's on the same page, very decisive. And so he's a veteran, been there, done that, seen all of it."
Even most of the Martindale blitzes he'll observe first-hand on Sunday.