Joe Flacco says there will be a significant change in mindset between his first start in green and white on Sunday at MetLife Stadium and his second start in four days in steamy, possibly stormy Miami.
"I definitely think I'll be in a little different state of mind come Sunday," Flacco said on Wednesday after learning from Head Coach Adam Gase that he will get his second start at the Dolphins in place of QB for Sam Darnold, who is coming back from his right shoulder sprain. "There definitely were a lot of new feelings and things like that going through my head, just because it was a little bit different for me.
"I think this week will be a little bit easier to relax and get into the flow of the game right away."
Besides bringing his 12 full seasons of experience as an NFL signal-caller to the game, there are a few more reasons to support Flacco being more relaxed and in the flow than he was for his rough-and-tumble Jets starting debut in the 30-10 loss to the Cardinals in Week 5.
For one, there's Flacco's track record against the Dolphins. It's pretty good. As in 6-and-0 good. His 71.8% completion rate vs. the 'Fins is the second-best regular-season accuracy against any opponent, trailing only his 73% in two games against Tampa Bay. Likewise, his 109.4 passer rating against the Dolphins is second-best to his 132.7 vs. the Buccaneers.
And if his 6-0 overall and 3-0 at Miami in the regular season isn't good enough, add a seventh overall win and fourth in South Florida, which came in his Baltimore rookie season in the 2008 playoffs, at what was then-named Dolphin Stadium.
"You're trying to jinx it," Flacco said when a reporter posed a question about his perfection in South Florida. "They had a real good team my rookie year but we went down there and beat 'em twice. ... I've been fortunate to play on a lot of good teams and some that maybe weren't as good outcome-wise at the end of the year but we still had some good teams and good players that showed up to play on Sunday."
Another interesting wrinkle for the 188th overall start of Flacco's career is that he could be teamed with an old Ravens teammate — WR Breshad Perriman was limited at Wednesday's practice after not practicing or playing the previous three weeks due to an ankle injury.
"I think Breshad over the last couple of years has gained a lot of confidence," Flacco said. "When he's healthy, he's a tough guy to cover. It'll be exciting to get him back out there."
"It feels like old times," Perriman said of working with Flacco at practice. "It feels like we really didn't miss a beat. It feels good."
Perriman didn't start to hit his stride as a pro wideout until last season with Tampa Bay, but he did have some numbers and memories with Flacco on the 2016-17 Ravens — the duo connected on 43 completions for 576 yards (13.4 yards/catch) and three touchdowns. Their longest connection came in 2016 on a 53-yard TD strike. Yeah, against the Dolphins.
Of course, there are upsides in getting Perriman and perhaps second-round rookie Denzel Mims back into the offense. But there are downsides, too, in trying to get Flacco and his returning receiver(s) up to speed. And the Jets offense is moving forward to the Dolphins with Le'Veon Bell released and departed and the backfield dynamic slightly different. That's a lot of change from Week 5 to Week 6.
But it's nothing a few chunk plays, more moving the chains on first and second downs and more red zone points won't cure. No sweat, said Flacco, calling again on his Baltimore at Miami memories.
"We played down there a few times and I definitely know a little bit about getting ready for the heat," he said. "I think if we prepare right, hydrate right, and we're in good shape, then we can beat a team that tries to wear the other team out even though we're coming down there at this time of year."
See the Best Photos from Wednesday's Practice During Week 6