Despite Loss, Jets QB Mike White Proves He’s for Real

When New York Jets quarterback Mike White came in for Zach Wilson in 2021, he put up the greatest debut numbers in NFL history. However, two games later, White imploded, and the No. 2 overall pick got his job back. Now, coming in again for an ineffective and irresponsible Wilson, White is showing his talent, and even though he lost his second start of the season, the Jets may have their QB of the future, just not the one they thought.

Mike White (mostly) came through in a big spot in Week 13 vs. the Vikings

In his first career start, Jets QB Mike White was 37-of-45 for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He left his second start with an injury, and in start No. 3, he completely collapsed.

It was Week 10 vs. the Buffalo Bills, and White went 24-of-44 for 251 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. The Bills won 45-17, and that was the end of the Mike White Era in 2021.

This season, White again came in for Wilson and immediately impressed. In Week 12, White went 22-of-28 for 315 yards with no INTs and three TDs. The performance earned him another start — with Zach Wilson inactive for the second-consecutive week – against the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings.

At the end of the game, White threw an interception to end it, and the Vikings came away with the 22-27 victory. However, White proved he’s not the same flustered QB he was against the Bills last season.

The Jets QB threw an interception on the first drive of the game. Instead of losing his cool, though, White went 29-of-54 for 358 yards the rest of the game and didn’t throw another pick until he had to force a final ball on 4th-and-10 with 0:16 left in the game.

It would have been a great story if White led the Jets to an improbable win, but as it is, the QB did enough to prove he’s a viable NFL signal-caller moving forward.

The Jets backup QB has earned the job for the rest of the season

Mike White of the New York Jets who replaced Zach Wilson.
Mike White | Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
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Three seasons after drafting Sam Darnold No. 3 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets took Zach Wilson No. 2 overall, in the 2021 NFL Draft. It was a classic Jets move. And after a year-plus with Wilson as QB1, the pick looks like yet another failed quarterback experiment in New Jersey.

In 2022, Wilson is 105-of-189 (55.6%) with 1,279 yards, four TDs, five INTs, and a 72.6 QB Rating. That rating is dead last among 35 qualified NFL QBs this season.

Mike White isn’t a perfect option at QB for the Jets. He can make some head-scratching throws, and as his two late-game trips into the red zone to win the game vs. the Vikings show, he doesn’t yet have that late-game magic.

However, his poise in the pocket and ability to make every throw makes him the best option for the Jets during the rest of the season. Wilson is not the answer right now, and if the Jets coaching staff can’t fix whatever is wrong with him, he may never be. A 37-year-old Joe Flacco isn’t the answer either, as he proved early in the season, going 1-2 as the starter.

That leaves White, and head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur need to give him the rest of the season as the starter to see what they have.

White is on a one-year, $2.5 million deal this season and is an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. If he continues to progress this year, the team should give the 27-year-old signal-caller a low- to mid-level longer-term deal.

The Jets are 7-5 this season, so whether they make the playoffs or not, they won’t have a high draft pick to select yet another QB, nor does it make sense with where they’re at. The team has a top-ranked defense, a dynamic wide receiver corps, a bell cow running back (when Breece Hall returns), and a good offensive line.

For now, Mike White is the team’s best answer, and after the season, they can decide whether Wilson is salvageable, White is the long-term solution, or going all in on someone like Aaron Rodgers makes sense.