Joe Flacco said it last year in his first tour of duty in green and white and he said it again after Wednesday's practice, his first as the next starting quarterback for the Jets when they host the Dolphins at home on Sunday:
"I don't know if I'm surprised about anything in this league anymore."
Not that he won't be ready to rock 'n' roll after head coach Robert Saleh announced earlier in the day that with Zach Wilson still rehabbing his knee and Mike White coming off a four-interception showing vs. Buffalo, Flacco would be the starter for the Jets' next game, with White backing him up.
"Listen, I want to play in this league. Anytime you want to go out there and get on the field, you're excited about it," Flacco said. "At the same time, Mike's a good friend, and I thought he played really well when he was in there. And it's a part of this league that you go through struggles. So I think you can see the personal relationship part of it as well.
"You never know what's going to happen."
Saleh explained his reasoning for his QB switch before practice. Why Flacco? he was asked.
"Joe is just that veteran," Saleh said. "One of the reasons we went and got Joe is for the experience part of it. Not only for the playing ability, but for the room, but also for situations like this. Miami has a dynamic coverage system as it pertains to defense with zero and all the different coverages they run. Joe's kind of been there, done that, and has just kind of a steadying experience that we thought would put us in the best position to win."
The coach was also asked why he was taking the ball out of White's hands after making a strong defense of the third-year signal-caller during Monday media availability.
"I'll be very, very clear on this one. My comments on Monday were because people wanted him out of New York," Saleh said. "What Mike has done in three weeks as a starter has proven to this entire organization and, in my opinion, to the entire New York fan base that he's a capable quarterback that can play in this league and can do a lot of good things. We're more excited about Mike as a future QB, as a quarterback in our future and working with Mike for as many years as possible because of what he's been able to do in his three starts."
See the Top Practice Images from Wednesday of Dolphins Week at 1 Jets Drive
Yet the coach also said White's lack of experience and Flacco's wealth of it was the decider. Flacco acknowledged that but also spoke about his still burning desire, after 192 games (including 15 playoff games), 108 wins — including in Super Bowl XLVII — exactly 4,000 completions, exactly 250 touchdown passes and more than 10,000 offensive snaps, of saddling up again.
"You can't take this game for granted. I'm 14 years in now and I want to play more than ever," he said. "You're a backup, you're traded, all kinds of things are running through your head. You want to play but not only that, you have to prove again that you can play.
"I think you've got to block that out as much possible. Whatever your role is in the moment, you dive in with that and make the most of that. I know I dodged the question before about being a mentor to this person or that person. I'm the kind of guy that I understand that this is a game, this is the NFL, it is what it is. And I'm a guy who's going to make the best out of every position I'm put in."
He did that Sunday against Buffalo in his half-drive filling in for White, completing three passes for 47 yards and the late touchdown strike to Elijah Moore. The game behind, though, didn't factor into Saleh's decision for the game ahead.
"Joe's got a history. He's in the record books all over the place. He's a world champion," Saleh said. "He's got a history of playing good ball. So, that one drive didn't solidify anything. It's his history more than anything."
And Flacco said that his past notwithstanding, he knows how he wants to spend his future, beginning Sunday at MetLife trying to beat Miami's blitz and coverage issues.
"I want to keep doing it," he said. "I'm the kind of guy, you're going to need to kick me out. Obviously everybody has an ego. But I love this game, I've been playing it for a really long time. People, if given the opportunity, have the right to keep playing as long as they can. That's what I'm going to do."