A historic weekend for ex-Washington State quarterbacks in the NFL continued Monday night in an AFC game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
An ankle injury to Jets starter Trevor Siemian brought former ex-Cougar signal-caller Luke Falk off the bench midway through the second quarter, giving the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer his regular season NFL debut at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Falk, who was signed to the Jets’ practice squad one day after the team set its 53-man roster, was elevated to the active squad when 2018 starter Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis, sidelining the quarterback for at least a month.
Siemian tweaked his ankle on a sack by Cleveland defensive lineman Myles Garrett and Falk, who’d only taken NFL preseason snaps, came into the game with 7:44 to play, completing his first career pass to running back Le’Veon Bell on his sixth snap from scrimmage.
The Logan, Utah, native took every snap the rest of the way for New York and completed 20-of-25 passes for 198 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 23-3 loss to Cleveland. Falk was also sacked two times.
“You never want to see a guy you spend so much time with go down like that,” Falk said. “When your number’s called, you want to go out there and execute. For the most part, I thought we did a pretty good job of that. Like I said, it was just those critical moments, that’s what football comes down to. If you execute in the critical moments, this game might be different.
“There’s a lot of learning to do and I think there are some positives. I don’t think it was as bad as the score might show, but we’ve definitely got to get better.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Siemian is expected to undergo an MRI for his ankle Tuesday and it’s unclear how long he’ll be sidelined for. The Jets visit the New England Patriots this Sunday — a matchup that would pit Falk against Tom Brady, someone the former WSU QB idolized growing up. Falk emulated Brady’s training routines, followed the QB’s meal plan and read the future Hall of Famers book, “The TB12 Method.”
Falk and Brady were both selected with the 199th overall pick of the NFL Draft.
On the possibility of moving forward with Falk behind center, Jets offensive guard Brian Winters said postgame, “I’ve got faith in him. He’s a poised quarterback, obviously we’re going against a great team and I’m sure he’s going to do his due diligence in everything he’s going to do.”
Eight days earlier, Falk’s successor at WSU, Gardner Minshew, replaced Jacksonville starter Nick Foles when Foles suffered a collarbone injury in the first quarter of the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
According to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura, it’s the first time in 19 years that two former WSU quarterbacks have thrown an NFL pass in the same week. New England’s Drew Bledsoe and San Diego’s Ryan Leaf accomplished that feat in Week 17 of the 2000 season. When Falk was promoted to New York’s active roster Thursday, it marked the first time two of Mike Leach’s former WSU QBs were on a 53-man squad in the NFL at the same time.