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Why you shouldn’t discredit Mike White because of Bears defense

Mike White, NY Jets, Bears, Stats
Mike White, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets quarterback Mike White shouldn’t have his performance diminished just because it came against the Chicago Bears

Look, the Chicago Bears have a bad defense. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it.

Chicago is ranked 27th in scoring defense (25.4 points per game) and is allowing the most yards per pass play (7.3) of any team in the NFL. New York Jets quarterback Mike White undoubtedly lucked into a cakewalk of a matchup for his first start of the 2022 season.

But that shouldn’t diminish White’s performance.

White completed 22 of 28 passes for 315 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions in his season debut. It was a masterful display from the Jets’ new starter.

Many people are writing off White’s performance as nothing more than a product of the Bears’ terrible defense. While it is completely fair to acknowledge that White still needs to prove he can play similarly well against good defenses (or even average ones), it is not fair to act like this showing has no worth simply because it came against the woeful Bears.

And here’s why: White played better against this defense than every other quarterback who has faced it this year.

Chicago has faced good quarterbacks like Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and Kirk Cousins. Yet, White had the most passing yards (315), the highest completion percentage (78.6), the highest passer rating (149.3), and the highest yards-per-attempt average (11.3) of any quarterback who faced Chicago this season. He tied Tagovailoa for the most passing touchdowns against Chicago’s defense.

Here is a look at the production of all 12 starting quarterbacks to face the Bears in 2022:

Mike White Stats, Bears
Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

The Bears are a terrible defensive team, but it is not as if they have been handing out numbers of White’s caliber on a weekly basis. White outperformed every other quarterback who faced this same defense.

Yes, the Bears were missing a couple of starting defensive backs in Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon. But get this: Gordon is actually the primary culprit for Chicago’s pass defense being considered such a poor unit. Gordon has allowed the most yards into his coverage (615) of any cornerback in the NFL this season. So, I would argue that losing Gordon may have even made the Bears’ defense better. It certainly couldn’t be any worse without him.

The weather is also a factor here. White played much of this game in heavy rain and still threw the ball extremely well. The negative effects of the rain balance out some of the positive effects that come with facing Chicago.

Nobody is arguing that White should be crowned the Jets’ savior based on this one performance. He needs to do this consistently. And it is completely fair to say, “That was great, but I want to see him do it against a better team.”

What isn’t fair is to completely ignore the legitimacy of this performance due to the opponent. With context applied, it is clear that White’s performance was still highly impressive even when you account for the quality of competition. He outplayed everyone who faced the same team, and he did it in unfavorable weather.

This game was one heck of a way for White to begin his journey to prove he is a legitimate NFL starter. The opponent across from him should not take away from that fact.

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1 year ago

As soon as I saw the title of this article I thought of watching Mac Jones play against them. THAT was a great game to watch!

1 year ago

Not only does White have to show he can beat good defenses, he has to show he is durable. Last year he got injured in (I think) his second game, and that kind of started a descent from the amazing high of his first game. This is where is his lack of mobility comes in. White is going to get hit against teams with good pass rushers and so he is vulnerable to injury. Hopefully, he can use his quick release to minimize that, but if he does get hurt, Jets fans may find themselves clamoring for the more mobile Wilson sooner than they think.

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 year ago

White Played well despite the rain. Starting Mitchell over Ogbuehi was a good call too. Even with Carter getting injured the running game faired well with Knight and Johnson. Need to bring that same production to Minnesota.

1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Palazzo

Mitchell didn’t start another injury. Cedric came out early.

1 year ago

Totally agree Michael. Plenty of those completions were tight window throws that were laser sharp. Plus, White and his receivers (kudos) were working with a heavy, wet ball all day, so his arm and hand strength looked fine. I’ve been really optimistic about White based on what we saw last year. Being smart, decisive, accurate, with very good pre and post snap processing are traits that translate to being a sustainably good qb. Great, team attitude as well. A lot of Chad Pennington here, which is a huge, huge compliment. I think the casual fan hones in on his high INT stats from last year, but that really got skewed by the Buff beat-down when he tried to play hero-ball down by multiple scores. I’ve always believed a qb’s best asset is between the ears. Kid’s smart. Please stick with him Saleh.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rich