Mike White is taking over for the New York Jets
The New York Jets‘ decision to bench Zach Wilson was a surprise, at least to me. Not because he didn’t deserve to be benched based on his play, far from it. But because teams don’t tend to bench a QB they took second overall just 20 games into their career.
Zach needed a “reset”, per Robert Saleh, who spent a considerable amount of time ensuring the media were aware this was a chapter break rather than the end of Zach’s story in New York.
In the hours that followed the announcement, debate raged as to whether this decision was the right one or not. We love debating, and we wouldn’t talk sports on social media if we didn’t, but the truth is we’ll need to wait and see before any conclusions can be drawn.
One thing is for sure: few can argue that Zach looks like the “Franchise QB” the Jets drafted him to be.
So whether you think the Jets have dropped the ball or you think this is a masterstroke by the powers that be, it’s time to get behind Mike White ahead of Sunday’s game against the Bears. So what can we expect from Mike?
Around a month ago the Jets promoted White to the #2 QB role in an effort to see what they had in the fifth-year man. Although White has been with the Jets throughout the reign of Saleh, the Jets still have minimal in-game data to determine White’s ability. Moving him to the #2 QB role would expand his practice reps. Based on reports, White has looked “impressive” and “in command” during practice. Still, more practice reps cannot give the Jets the ability to evaluate him when the lights are on.
I don’t believe there are many people out there who believe Mike White is the future of this franchise in terms of his starting ability, although this represents a great chance for him to prove everyone wrong. I do think the Jets are interested in seeing if White is the long-term backup to whoever takes on that starting role; hopefully, a rejuvenated Zach Wilson, but maybe someone else.
White has yet to play this season, but we did see him in four games last season. The results were mixed overall. Here are some of his stats for the 2021 season:
- Completion Percentage: 66.7%
- Touchdowns: 5
- Interceptions: 8
- Yards Per Attempt: 7.2
- Pressure to Sack Percentage: 8.9%
- Time to Throw: 2.52
The interceptions stick out like a sore thumb and it was mostly down to the 4 interceptions he threw against Buffalo. It wasn’t his finest moment but I went back to take a look at that game and it also wasn’t the disaster class that some are making it out to be; it’s also key to remember that judging a QB on one game is questionable, whether that’s Zach Wilson or Mike White.
In that Buffalo game, White dropped back 46 times and he threw 44 times. He threw four passes that were deemed “turnover worthy” and against the odds, every single turnover-worthy pass led to an interception. Think how unlucky you have to be for that to happen. Over a full season that tends to even off. For instance, Zach Wilson has thrown 13 passes deemed worthy of turnovers this season, yet that’s equated to only 5 interceptions, or 38%. In that Buffalo game, White had 100% of his turnover-worthy throws converted into interceptions. He was bad but he was also unlucky. White even had 3 drops by receivers that game, which didn’t help the flow.
Get Started: Learn More About Becoming A Jet X Member
I know you can’t just erase a game but if you remove that Buffalo game you’re left with a QB who completed 69.4% of his passes with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions to his name. The interceptions can’t happen with the defense the Jets have, but against New England, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, he showed an ability to move the ball down the field, and that’s all the Jets need right now.
I’m not here to make excuses for Mike White, but if your only argument against him is that Buffalo game you need to go back and take another look. Just like we shouldn’t define Wilson by a single game, we also shouldn’t do the same for White.
What you’ll get with Mike White is a limited passer who has a deep understanding of the offensive system and the offensive philosophies. He won’t make countless off-schedule throws that hit the social media viral circuit, but he will make plays on-script with accuracy and precision. He’ll also stand in there and deliver the ball with pressure in his face.
Consider these stats: Amongst the 52 QBs who were pressured on at least 20 dropbacks last season, White had the sixth-best completion percentage at 56.1%. I probably don’t need to tell you who was ranked 52nd out of 52 with a completion percentage of 29.3% (if you couldn’t guess, it was Zach Wilson).
Being able to deliver the ball in a tight spot and keep the chains moving is a key characteristic, and while I’m not going to stand here and tell you White is better under pressure than Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson who he ranked above last season, I am saying he’s a vast improvement on Zach in that regard. This is quite key when the offensive line is so undermanned.
Mike LaFleur should also look to dial up opportunities for White to work that intermediate game where he found success last season. White completed 60.7% of his passes between 10-19 yards, which ranked him 10th in the league among QBs who had at least 20 attempts (43 qualifiers).
The Jets don’t need White to go out there and be Pat Mahomes. They need him to go out there and make the simple passes.
You may not agree with the decision, but White deserves the opportunity and he deserves the support of Jets fans.