The New York Jets find themselves in disarray yet again, sitting in last place in the AFC East with a 2-7 record after a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday — yet somehow still courting a quarterback controversy between two players that could both conceivably be out of the league within five years.
A fan favorite under center after his Halloween performance, the best by a Jets quarterback in 21 years, Gang Green’s Mike White threw an embarrassing four interceptions against the Bills while barely breaking a 50% completion percentage and failing to register a touchdown.
Sunday’s ghastly game comes after three weeks of fans holding him up as a potential savior of the tortured franchise. After spending the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft on quarterback Zach Wilson, their would-be-protege hurt his knee last month, forcing them to send in White in his place.
Previously, Wilson hasn’t played anywhere like a first-pick quarterback, with just a 57.5% completion percentage and four touchdowns on the season.
Now with White under center, the team has been a measly 1-3, but he’s managed to post respectable numbers — especially on Halloween, when he threw for 405 years on an 82.2% completion rate and three touchdowns.
Fans began to question whether Wilson — who only had a single overtime win in his six starts — was the long-term answer at quarterback, or whether White — a fifth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 who was ultimately waived and signed to the Jets practice squad the following year — could potentially strip the starting job away from the number-2-overall draft pick.
After the game, though, Jets head coach Robert Saleh downplayed the potentially-brewing contest in his locker room, and re-committed the team to Wilson’s leadership, whenever he returns to the offense.
“I know we worked him out pretty hard [on Sunday] morning, so we’ll see how that went. He’s getting better every day, so we’ll see where he is at from an injury standpoint again before we make any decisions,” said Saleh.
If the Jets’ problems under center are bad, their woes on the defensive side might be even worse.
The defense has allowed several teams to post high-scoring offensive performance in successive weeks — 45 points to the Bills, 45 points to the Indianapolis Colts, 34 points to the Cincinnati Bengals, and 54 points to the New England Patriots.
The defensive performance became so ugly that former Jets coach Rex Ryan — who led the Jets to two straight AFC Championship Game appearances in 2010 and 2011 — weighed in, distancing his own legacy from Saleh’s.
“This guy is supposed to be a defensive guru. I take it personally on this one. Everything I heard was, this guy is a lot like myself, but without the bad part,” Ryan said on ESPN NY’s DiPietro and Rothenberg Show. “Well, some of the bad parts you need. This team doesn’t play with any damn heart. Don’t ever compare this guy, this Robert Saleh, to me.”
With Gang Green staring head on at yet another losing season and an extension of their decade-long playoff drought, the Jets will likely see Wilson return as quarterback for their next game on Nov. 21 against the Miami Dolphins.