Mike White, New York Jets
Mike White, New York Jets, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The football gods’ latest New York Jets-related plotline featured a Mike White rejection in primetime

When Elijah Moore broke away from the Indianapolis Colts secondary with three-and-a-half minutes to go in the first quarter, New York Jets fans busted out in unison. From the streets of Northern New Jersey to the comfy lifestyle in the Hamptons, the unthinkable began to materialize in real-time for Jets fans located everywhere.

All it took was an easy touchdown grab off a wheel route to cement the thought that had been waiting to escape an entire fanbase for four long days.

This Mike White guy is for real.

First, he becomes the first Jets quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in a game since Vinny Testaverde, circa 2000, and now he marches down the field on the Jets’ second drive of the game—in direct response to the Indianapolis Colts’ first score of the night.

This Mike White guy actually has an idea out there. He’s actually reading the defense pre-snap en route to looking ultra-confident post-snap. He’s progressing through his reads like a 10-year veteran.

Even Troy Aikman couldn’t stop his own nationally-televised vocal parade about the Pembroke Pines, FL kid.

After so many misses on top-five quarterback talent through the years, Joe Douglas and company may have stumbled into something—a promising sign that the program-building process is on the right track.

Then … naturally, reality hit.

FOX Sports’ cameras panned to No. 5 trying to shake off an injury. Not just an injury, of course, but one to his throwing arm. Not just his throwing arm, obviously, but an injury targeting proper grip on the football.

Seen wincing in pain on the sideline, long-suffering Jets fans understood what had just transpired: Mike White was done for the night.

The football gods just laid out their latest Jets-specific plotline.

After several weeks of frustration with the kid (rookie quarterback Zach Wilson), the football gods were apparently in an obnoxious mood. To have a fanbase rise up in slap-me-silly excitement, as it’s simultaneously ripped away, is something not even an angrier-than-usual Bill Belichick would feel 100 percent comfortable with. (We’ll at least pretend a mere mortal on Earth isn’t as nasty as the fantastical world of the football-controlling characters in the sky.)

Yet, that’s exactly what happened when White exited the Jets’ 45-30 loss to the Colts.

“Yeah, so, we don’t know exactly when it occurred,” White told the media after the game. “I know I felt it on the touchdown throw to Elijah (Moore) but just kind of felt it kind of almost lock up on me and going to the sideline. My two middle fingers kind of went numb. I couldn’t aggressively grip the ball enough to be out there and help my team.”

From a 7-7 first-quarter ball game to 42-10 in favor of the home team midway in the third quarter is how this one unfolded with the Jets’ newfound spark on the sideline attempting to throw a ball without pain. Despite a nice Josh Johnson showing that included over 300 yards after the game was fractured, Robert Saleh‘s team put up another stinker.

The game did not come and go without some positives, at the very least.

The previously mentioned Johnson played tremendous football. He brilliantly played within Mike LaFleur‘s offense while helping rookies Michael Carter (86 total yards) and Moore (7 receptions, 87 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns) to solid nights.

In the end, however, the feeling of everlasting dread could not be avoided.

How in the world does a fanbase continually find itself so wrapped up in legitimate hype just before the anvil falls from the sky? (And no, the 2019 offseason consisting of Le’Veon Bell and new uniforms should not qualify as “legitimate” hype.)

It’s quite simple, actually, and it has nothing to do with black magic or a world that neatly throws us into The Matrix. It’s neither supernatural nor bonkers, either.

Joe Namath must have sold his soul for Super Bowl 3.

What else are Jets fans supposed to think?

Namath, a man who represented (along with Muhammad Ali) the country’s first super celebrity-athlete, was a very big deal in the late 1960s. Nearly mythical in real-time, stories about his so-called “conquests” in various forms dealing with his famed nightlife didn’t stop him from pulling off the greatest upset in sports history—and an event that could still easily be described as the most important game to the powerhouse that we know the NFL as today.

From laughable status to football powerhouse the AFL went, and from big football-player name to household celebrity No. 12 traveled in record time.

How else could anybody explain what happened to the Jets since the time of America’s Counterculture of the 1960s?

No playoff appearances and just one winning season since 2010, only 14 total playoff appearances in the organization’s six-decade history, and unusual events that seem to follow the franchise around the northeast (from Hempstead, NY to Florham Park, NJ) account for just a small piece of the torturous pie.

Incredibly, the injury topic has faded away thanks to its near-flawless mark in the attendance category. No matter the coaching staff or regime, Jets players drop in big numbers with each passing season.

Just think about what this Jets defense was supposed to look like coming into the season:

  • EDGE: Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers
  • DT: Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers
  • DT: Foley Fatukasi, Sheldon Rankins
  • EDGE: Vinny Curry, Bryce Huff
  • LB: C.J. Mosley
  • LB: Jarrad Davis
  • CB: Bryce Hall
  • CB: Brandin Echols
  • SCB: Michael Carter II
  • FS: Lamarcus Joyner, Ashtyn Davis
  • SS: Marcus Maye

Those with a strikethrough have or will have had at least one IR stint in 2021.

Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry were lost for the year in August. Jarrad Davis has played in just two games thanks to a lengthy IR stint. Lamarcus Joyner was also lost for the season in Week 1. Ashtyn Davis only recently returned from an IR stint that kept him out the first six games. And now Marcus Maye has been lost for the year.

Oh yeah, let’s also not forget about the offensive injuries to Wilson, Mekhi Becton and now Corey Davis. (Somewhere, Braden Mann is leaping with an arm raised in need of dire attention.)

While every NFL team deals with injuries, what’s transpired over the last few years is flat-out ridiculous.

Now, thanks to Mike White’s uncertain status, who’ll get the call for the Jets in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills at home isn’t yet known. Five days after telling the world that “anything was possible” per the quarterback position, Saleh took the conservative approach.

“We’ll see where they are from an injury standpoint,” Saleh told the media Friday when asked about his starting quarterback situation.” We’ll see how far along Zach is, Mike, and we’ll go from there. So, like I said, with Mike, it’s trending in that direction. With Zach, it’s trending in that direction. It’s still day-to-day and we’ll get a lot more information as we get closer to Monday and then Wednesday.”

White’s “nerve contusion,” as Saleh described it, may just serve as the salt those hilarious football gods planned to pour on the wound all along.

“He got hit in the perfect spot. From my understanding, it was a nerve contusion, so the nerve just went dead on him. He couldn’t grab the ball.”

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, however, the feeling came back to White’s grip. By then, considering Johnson’s obvious momentum, Saleh left White on the sideline.

By then, the damage had also already been done—thanks to an atrocious run defense that allowed the Colts to steamroll it at every turn.

So, wait … White could have returned to a primetime game (with the entire football world watching) only after it was already too late?

Are you kidding me?

Never … especially when it involves the Jets.

Not even when it involves a three-interception game by a linebacker in mud, a too-short 47-yard field goal in the divisional round, a native-New Yorker who once famously said, “I’m not a genius,” a man whose name rhymes with Madam Face, a failed defensive-minded head coach who bolts for New England after just one day on the job, or a disease kids commonly acquire while at the junior prom.

Nobody should ever kid around about this organization—because there they are, New York Jets fans, rising up in unison on a wheel route in the first quarter, only to be viciously turned back yet again.

How was Thursday night any different than what we’ve witnessed this year?

From the promising Zach Wilson heights in Carolina (when given a chance) to the despair against Belichick and Vic Fangio. From the electrifying chunk-gaining performance against Tennessee to the dreary London performance paired with a Foxborough blowout of epic proportions.

From the unshakable Mike White stunning everybody on Halloween to the next plotline in a torturous story with no seeming end-point, we now go.

It’s too difficult to think it’s not damn near fiction at times—even for non-Jets fans.

And no, whether or not Mike White is actually the real deal, or whether he should challenge the rookie for the starting job, isn’t the point here. (The answer to, “Who is the Jets’ starting quarterback?” is Zach Wilson, by the way.) Instead, today is about Jets fans finally having something truly astonishing to celebrate, only to watch it ripped away faster and nastier than usual.

It’s easy to see why stories of Joe Namath’s soul-selling days and the football gods enacting vengeance are often necessary. Simply put, Jets fans do not have many alternative methods to sleep at night.

All of this nonsensical talk is an irrational way to functionally navigate through a football life.

For Jets fans, here’s the current credo: Do not allow your emotions to get the best of you, either positively or negatively, and definitely stay away from picking the Buffalo Bills in your survivor pool next Sunday. After all, these are the New York Jets, the football gods are real (and apparently ornery), and you’re a tortured New York Jets fan just waiting for the next anvil.

You should, by now, at the very least, fully understand the nature of your cruel football reality.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, developer and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor | Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (sold in 2020). SEO: XLM Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com
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2 years ago

I understand the concerns. The results in some of these games can give you pause. But, I have seen signs. I have seen the offense who everyone kept saying couldn’t score, look like at times, that they could score at will. With the backups no less. I have seen the defense look competitive at times even though they were on the field a lot because the offense wasn’t moving. They have some young pieces in place. Joe Douglas is building this the right way. He selected the coach who he wants to run his vision. WE ARE headed in the right direction.

verge tibbs
verge tibbs
2 years ago

I dont think anything can compare to the epididymal hypertension or the constant nut ache of Jets fans.

2 years ago

Thanks Robbie for the article. I am a Jets fan from the Ira from Staten Island, Joe Beningo school of fandom, so I have suffered a lot of disappointing and spirit crushing seasons. This time it’s different. Despite all the blowouts and utter disappointing games, this time it’s different. THIS will be the place where free agents will want to come. It’s already happening despite the embarrassment. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif waived his no trade clause and left Patrick Mahomes to come here. For those who say he left to possibly start, yeah sure. But do you think he is waiving it to go to Detroit or Houston? No, I don’t think so. If you watch Joe Douglas when they ask him anything about Robert Saleh, you can see the giddiness in his face and voice, and visa versa when you talk to the coach about the GM. We put up 511 yards with the backup quarterback and almost 500 more with the backup to the backup. All this without our star left tackle, starting quarterback and No. 1 receiver. They are all learning, including the kid wunderkind offensive coordinator. We will get our pieces back on defense while adding 4 more possible young studs in the draft. They are only going to get better. No gentlemen. This time it’s different. Sorry for the long comment, but I can’t contain MY giddiness for what I see happening. Don’t listen to the outside noise. Listen to the coach and the GM who are TELLING YOU exactly what is going on and how they are going to get there.

2 years ago
Reply to  rags11

I have mixed feelings. I know they are learning but I also wonder if they have all the “right” people in place. The OC and DC have each taken their lumps, I think they need some help. Losing Knapp was a major blow to both Wilson and the OC. I think they need to replace Knapp with someone other than Beck or Cavanaugh. Gary Kubiak? I am not sure if he’s done for good but he makes a lot of sense. Saleh needs to step in more with the D. I hate, and I’m using the word HATE, that defensive coaches take heat if they “spend too much time on their side of the ball,” or “need to be CEO” types, but offensive HC’s can call plays and run the offense. Saleh needs to do more.

All of that said, there are signs things could be good around here, I do have major concerns about the QB. You can clearly see his arm talent and instincts but I am not sure he’ll ever be happy taking the easier stuff. I hope I’m wrong.