Florida International alum James Morgan will compete against Mike White to be the NY Jets' backup QB to Zach Wilson.
NY Jets, James Morgan, Getty Images

Importance of the backup quarterback

James Morgan and Mike White have each thrown exactly zero passes in an NFL regular-season game. For that reason, they will have a mountain of pressure on their shoulders throughout the upcoming training camp and preseason.

The backup quarterback position is a crucial one in the NFL. This past season, only 13 quarterbacks started all 16 games, meaning that over half of the league’s teams started a backup quarterback in at least one game. Twenty quarterbacks started at least 15 games, leaving 12 teams – over one-third of the league – to start a backup quarterback in at least two games.

Jets fans know the importance of the backup quarterback position all too well. They have not seen a quarterback start all 16 games since Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015, and even then, Fitzpatrick missed the majority of a game against the Raiders, with Geno Smith taking over for him.

Over the 43 seasons that have passed since the NFL increased its schedule to 16 games in 1978, the Jets have only had 15 seasons with a 16-game starting quarterback (35% of seasons).

Most likely, presumed starter Zach Wilson is going to go down for at least one game, and unless the Jets add a veteran quarterback at some point over the next month-plus, the keys to the franchise will be plopped into the palms of either Morgan or White.

Mike White’s background is not promising

While White has never played in a regular-season game, he does have a lot of NFL film on his reel, and it is mostly uninspiring.

White appeared in all eight of the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason games from 2018-19 after being selected out of Western Kentucky in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft. He played extensively in each game, dropping back at least 10 times in every contest.

Over his two-year preseason career with the Cowboys, White completed 80 of 138 passes (58.0%) for 719 yards (5.2 per attempt), one touchdown, and two interceptions (68.5 passer rating). He earned an overall Pro Football Focus grade below 56.0 in every appearance.

One of White’s primary issues was his pocket presence. He was a sack-taking machine, absorbing 13 sacks against his 138 attempts for a sack rate of 8.6%. For reference, the only qualified quarterbacks to take sacks more frequently in the 2020 regular season were Carson Wentz (10.3%), Daniel Jones (9.1%), and Sam Darnold (8.8%).

Jets X-Factor Membership

White will surely get quite a few more opportunities this preseason. The 26-year-old needs to show that he has made substantial progress in the two years that have passed since his last appearance.

James Morgan has the tools but needs development

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds with long arms, big hands, and a powerful arm, Morgan, 24, is the prototype pocket passer. However, he will need to make a lot of technical and fundamental refinements to thrive in the NFL after he failed to dominate the weak competition he faced as a redshirt senior at Florida International.

Over 12 games in 2019, Morgan completed 207 of 357 passes (58.0%) for 2,585 yards (7.2 per attempt), 14 touchdowns, and five interceptions. His NCAA passer rating of 128.9 only ranked ninth among Conference USA quarterbacks that year.

Morgan put himself on the map with a great campaign in 2018. In his first season at FIU following a transfer from Bowling Green, Morgan led Conference USA with a 157.6 NCAA passer rating. He must return to that level if he is to beat out White for the Jets’ backup quarterback job.

On the latest episode of the Cool Your Jets podcast, Ben Blessington and Michael Nania discuss the outlooks of Morgan, White, and Wilson as they break down the present and future of the Jets’ quarterback room.

Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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1 year ago


1 year ago

Nick Mullins was reasonably successful in this Offense in SF, quarterback friendly Offense, Morgan could have similar success

1 year ago

Doug Pederson former Eagle HC as a consultant. Douglas connection.