Jets focusing on better pass protection for Mike White with Lions in town

How Jets can right the ship
New York Jets offensive tackle Duane Brown, top, checks on quarterback Mike White, below, in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets quarterback Mike White wasn’t seen on the practice field on Thursday during the open portion of practice, but offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said that White didn’t seem impacted throwing during practice the day before.

And the Jets’ No. 1 QB told reporters himself that he was “feeling good” following practice at Atlantic Health Training Center.  White took two brutal hits during last Sunday’s loss against the Buffalo Bills and had to leave the game on two separate occasions.

He was taken to a Buffalo hospital afterward as well.

However, it seems that White will be ready for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. He left little doubt he would suit up on Sunday against the Detroit Lions when asked about it.

“I’m preparing as such and until something changes and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” White said. 

Prior to Thursday’s practice, LaFleur had told reporters that White hadn’t expressed any discomfort while throwing after injury his ribs against the Bills. The Jets offensive coordinator reiterated something that several of the team’s players mentioned after the loss.

“He took some shots obviously in the game,” LaFleur said. “Even if he did (have any discomfort) he wouldn’t say it. He’s just a tough dude.” 

White took over the starting QB job from Zach Wilson in Week 12 against the Bears and led New York to a 31-10 win. He was heralded by his teammates on Sunday for the toughness to go back into the game after taking a beating at the hands of the Bills’ defense.

The Lions won’t be as formidable as the Bills’ pass rush was last weekend, but with wins in five of their last six games, Detriot will be a tall order as their stadium-mates, the New York Giants, discovered earlier this year.  One aspect that the Jets are looking to shore up going into Sunday is making sure White doesn’t take the same beating he did last week again this week. 

LaFleur noted that the Jets had done a good job on third down protections, but it was earlier in the drives that the pass protection had miscues.

“Our guys, when Buffalo knew we were throwing the ball, we protected really well, that’s what the random part about this whole thing was,” he said. “It was the first and second down play pass, the play actions where we had uncharacteristic, fundamental issues in lack of execution that just killed drives and that can’t happen. Especially, when you’re playing a team like Buffalo. We’d have a drive going, I’d call a play pass and for one reason or another not to get into specifics, but we’d just have a breakdown, and it’s stuff that we’ve got to get fixed, and fixed fast.”

Even under pressure White had been able to make some good passes against the Bills. On the first instance where he had to come out of the game against Buffalo, White found Elijah Moore for a completion as he was about to be crunched by Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver.

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LaFleur credited White’s focus on making the pass and not on the pass rush for why he was able to be as successful as he was under the pressure he found himself under. 

 “If he has to take the hit, he’s going to take the hit,” he said. “You saw the first one that he delivered to Elijah Moore on the over to get the explosive. I don’t believe that hit should’ve happened if we as coaches get that shored up, but again, he’s not watching the pass rush, he’s playing quarterback, he’s playing with his feet in the ground. He’s playing with his base and he’s going to deliver whatever ball is necessary for the offense.”