The Jets are hunting for a playoff spot this season, and they may have found their savior in Mike White.
The former fifth-round pick, who has started just four games in the NFL, stepped in on Sunday to lead the Jets to a 31–10 victory over the Chicago Bears, and put on a tremendous display that has been absent from the Gang Green offense this season.
Entering the league in 2018 as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, White never got a real chance to establish himself as a starting signal caller in the pros.
He played his first appearance in an NFL last season with the Jets while Zach Wilson was injured, and put up respectable stats during the three-and-a-half games he played in.
But, on Sunday, he got the biggest opportunity of his professional career.
The Jets, sitting solidly in playoff contention, turned to White after benching Wilson, and handed him the keys to the team’s offense against the Bears.
He made the most of it.
White was stellar through four quarters, including an opening drive where he completed six of seven passes and marched the team 79 yards into the endzone for the first touchdown on an opening drive of the season.
He ended the game with 22 completions on 28 attempts (78.6%) for 315 yards and three touchdown passes, with no interceptions and just one sack.
Meanwhile, Wilson, on the season, boasted a 55.56% completion rate, while throwing for 182.7 yards per game and just four total touchdowns over seven games.
Head coach Robert Saleh, who tapped White for the starting role instead of veteran Joe Flacco, praised the 27-year-old for knowing his limitations, and consistently making the right play.
“We didn’t need to turn into the Greatest Show on Turf,” said Saleh. “He didn’t need to be anybody but Mike White.”
For his part, White said he wanted to be a “calming presence” for the team’s offense.
“Personally the way I approach the quarterback position is being a calming presence in the huddle, especially when things aren’t going well,” he said after the game. “Because that’s when things can start to spiral and snowball.”
His pocket presence was notable, too. According to NextGen Stats, when holding the ball for over 2.5 seconds, White completed 13 out of 15 of his passes (and and three of his touchdowns came on such plays). Wilson, meanwhile, had only thrown two scores while holding the ball for 2.5 seconds or more.
The locker room seems to be thankful for White, as well.
After Wilson made some controversial comments, when he said he didn’t owe the defense and apology after scoring just three points against the Patriots, there were reported tensions within the Gang Green roster.
White, however, drew nothing but praise.
“We were talking about it on the sideline. It’s one of the only times [the defense] had been able to chill for a little bit longer. We were very excited,” said rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, noting how often the Wilson-led offense would turn the ball over quickly.
The wide receiving core was happy, too.
“I can’t say I expected him to go out and have a 149 passer rating,” said Garrett Wilson, who caught two touchdown passes on Sunday. “But I expected him to ball.”
While Saleh had previously called Wilson’s benching a “reset,” rather than the final nail in the coffin for his Jets career, it’s hard to see how they could turn back to Wilson if White continues to perform the way he did on Sunday.
Saleh did not commit to White starting at quarterback for the remainder of the season, but rather that he was “focusing on the present” and their upcoming game against the Minnesota Vikings — but going forward, it appears to be Mike White’s job to lose.