Despite White's outstanding game,
Mike White’s brilliant performance Sunday hasn’t cemented his spot as the Jets’ starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
White is the starter right now, but Robert Saleh said the plan still is to bring back Zach Wilson at some point this season.
“This is Mike White’s opportunity,” Saleh said during a Monday Zoom call. “That doesn’t change. Mike has an opportunity to stack another great day up this week. When we feel like Zach is ready to roll, he’s going to roll.”
The truth is, Saleh can’t fully commit to White for the final six games. A few weeks ago, Saleh said that barring injury, Wilson would be the quarterback for the rest of the season. That changed after his dud in New England on Nov. 20 as the Jets had 2 yards of offense in the second half.
White will make his fifth NFL start on Sunday in Minnesota. Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick last year, will continue to run the practice team and work on his fundamentals and footwork.
“It’s a week-to-week deal,” Saleh said. “The intent is to get Zach ready to play football again. I’ll make that decision when I’m ready. While we’re going through this process, it’s Mike White’s opportunity to take advantage of every last play that he gets. We’ll leave it at that. We’ll figure it out as we go.”
The Jets would love it if White keeps playing well and leads the offense the way he did on Sunday in a 31-10 win over the Bears.
White threw for 315 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. With the 27-year-old quarterback running the show for the first time in more than a year, the Jets gained a season-high 466 yards.
Saleh could reconsider his current stance if White has strong performances at Minnesota and the following week at Buffalo. But when he was asked if there is a situation in which he would say he’s sticking with White, he responded that he’s not dealing with “hypotheticals” right now.
“He took advantage of yesterday and we’re looking forward to him taking advantage of it again,” Saleh said.
The Jets were a different team against the Bears for a lot of reasons, and White was the biggest. He made the right reads, got rid of the ball much quicker than Wilson does and spread the ball around to 10 different receivers.
White galvanized the team. The Jets played with joy, almost like young kids having fun while playing in the rain.
“Everyone loves Mike,” Saleh said.
White’s teammates gushed about his impact on an offense that was struggling and needed a spark. Left tackle Duane Brown was impressed with his poise, how he was in “good spirits” the whole time and his ability to read and react to situations.
“He got us in the right plays, and when he had to make big plays in the passing game, he was big time,” Brown said. “Considering the weather conditions, to be as effective as he was, it was impressive. He had a heck of a day.”
White became the fourth Jets quarterback since 1970 to record multiple games of at least 300 passing yards and three touchdowns — and he’s started only four times.
“He was a smooth operator,” running back Ty Johnson said. “He ran the offense how we need to. He made the throws, he made the calls, he checked out of things. He was just doing Mike White things.”
Defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers said, “He makes the routine plays routine. He does a good job of taking the throws that they give him and lets the playmakers go do their thing.”
In his four starts, White has completed 90 of 128 passes (70.3%) for 1,066 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Four picks came against Buffalo in his last start of the 2021 season.
Defenses will start scheming to take away what he does well, but Saleh believes the Jets’ improved defense is playing so well that White won’t be forced to do too much. In last year’s Buffalo game, the Jets fell behind 24-3 early in the third quarter. White was picked off on the next three series.
“We’re better equipped on defense to not have to force and push the ball downfield the way we had to last year,” Saleh said. “I think our run game affords us the opportunity to continue to play the manner that we do. He’ll get those opportunities and he’s going to continue to get opportunities until we see fit. We’ll see.”