Mike White made his second start of the season at quarterback for the Jets on Sunday, and despite the team’s tough loss, he earned widespread praise from his fellow Gang Green teammates.
“I know I’d go to war for that boy. He’s got something special about him,” said rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
Wilson finished the game with eight catches for 162 yards on the game, and praised the new quarterback’s poise during the big game.
“He was out there, controlling the huddle, never letting the moment get too big,” he said.
“It was fun to be out there to play with him today, to see how he went about his business. I’m just sorry we couldn’t get it done for him.”
White made some mistakes on Sunday, but overall played very well. He recorded 369 yards in the ground while throwing 57 times — and scored the team’s only touchdown on a forceful run in the fourth quarter to bring the Jets within one score.
He nearly completed a potentially game-winning touchdown throw with under two minutes to go, but Braxton Berrios dropped the catchable pass.
“That’s not on him — that’s on me,” Berrios said. “He put it where I should’ve got it. So, yeah, that one’s on me.”
Berrios also highlighted White’s ability to stand in the pocket, and deliver on both short and long throws.
“He’s a baller,” Berrios said with a smile.
“Mike did a great job,” said head coach Robert Saleh. “He kept his composure, and made some big, big throws.”
The praise from his teammates and coaches comes after the team went through weeks of a rocky relationship with former starter Zach Wilson.
The former second-overall pick was benched after a horrendous Week 11 performance when the offense mustered just 3 points against the New England Patriots.
After frustration from some of the other offensive team members, both wide receivers Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims requested trades.
But, now that White is under center for the team, and quickly turning the Jets passing attack from a non-factor into a legitimate force, it seems everyone in the locker room is walking with a renewed pep in their step.
And unlike Wilson, who met his fate on the bench after a controversial comment when he seemingly denied any responsibility for their offensive woes (and drew seeming criticism from the defense), White acted like a mature veteran and shouldered the blame for their inability to find pay dirt on several drives on Sunday.
“We’ve got an opponent next week where we’re going to need those to be six points. It’s frustrating, but this is a game of inches and we felt that today,” White said, referring to their upcoming divisional game against the Bills in Buffalo.
“My job as a quarterback is put our team in the best position, and that’s scoring in the red zone,” White said. “So it starts with me.”
While Saleh and the rest of the team’s management had previously said that they believed Wilson’s career is not over in New York, it’s hard to see them going back to him if White keeps playing the way he is — and if the rest of the team keeps pouring adoration on him like WIlson has never seen.
The Jets have five regular season games remaining. They’re currently in playoff position as the final Wild Card spot in the AFC, but they’ll need to win some critical games to solidify that stature.
If you ask members of the Jets, though, they believe in Mike White to get that done.