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

Mike White delivered dime after dime in New York Jets’ loss to Vikings

Box-score scouts are going to run wild with Mike White‘s numbers in Minnesota. He completed 54% of his passes and posted a 0 TD/2 INT ratio in a loss. Surely, he must have stunk up the joint, right?

Watch the game. If you do, you will see that White backed up his breakout performance against the Bears with another highly impressive outing.

White’s low completion percentage is more to blame on a handful of drops and a lack of separation from the Jets’ receivers throughout the game. The lack of separation forced White to rely heavily on low-percentage attempts – many of which he completed or threw on-target. Accounting for the drops and the difficulty of his throws, White threw the ball very accurately.

Neither interception was a play that White deserves any criticism for (unlucky tip and a last-ditch prayer). Again, anyone who watched the game should know that his interception total is completely misleading and not even worth mentioning. As for the touchdown number, White did have a rushing touchdown despite the zero in the passing touchdown column, and Braxton Berrios dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass.

Yes, the team’s red-zone woes were troubling, but, again: watch the game. Not much of that was on White. The Jets’ red-zone struggles were largely to blame on poor run-blocking, ineffective trick-play calls by Mike LaFleur, and an inability for anyone on the Jets to get open. Besides throwing the ball a little bit behind Berrios on the fateful fourth-down play (which still got into Berrios’s chest and should have been caught), I hardly saw anything in the red zone that White deserved fault for. There was little to nothing made available to him (I’ll exemplify this on film in my grading breakdown later this week).

It is critical that we ignore White’s stats when evaluating him in this game. Flip on the film and you see a quarterback who delivered one big-time throw after the next in a gutsy performance where he was the main reason his team had any sort of chance to win the game.

These throws are elite. Plain and simple. And White racked up a ton of them, often coming in gotta-have-it spots of the game.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but my take is that this was a second consecutive strong performance from Mike White.

That begs the question… did White just clinch the Jets’ starting quarterback job over the rest of the season?

I think he did.

White just strung together the Jets’ two best quarterbacking performances of 2022 (again, that’s in my opinion) in his first two appearances of the season. Throw in his Bengals game last year, and now we are looking at this wild fact: Three of White’s four fully-played starts in his career are arguably three of the best performances by any Jets quarterback since 2016.

White would have to be astronomically terrible for the Jets to yank him considering the ceiling he has shown over his limited action thus far. His floor cannot go any lower than Zach Wilson’s (or Joe Flacco’s, considering how poorly Flacco played against Baltimore and Cincinnati), and his ceiling – at least the ceiling he has shown, not his hypothetical ceiling – has been significantly higher than either Wilson or Flacco.

Coming into this season, White’s limited sample size in 2021 made it tough to believe in him. But with the addition of two more impressive games in 2022, his resume is slowly becoming legitimate.

Consider this: With their 486-yard outburst in Minnesota, the Jets’ offense has now eclipsed 460 total yards in three of White’s four full starts (Cincinnati, Chicago, Minnesota).

That is the same number of 460-yard performances (in regulation time) the Jets have gotten from all other starting quarterbacks combined over the past seven seasons (since 2016). No other Jets starter led the team to 460+ yards more than once over this span.

In fact, White is one of only seven starting quarterbacks in the NFL who have led their team to multiple performances of 460+ total yards this season:

  • Patrick Mahomes (5)
  • Jalen Hurts (4)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (3)
  • Josh Allen (3)
  • Lamar Jackson (2)
  • Joe Burrow (2)
  • Mike White (2)

And the guy has played two games.

In total, we have now seen White play six games in his NFL career, and the Jets’ offense has generally looked electric with him under center. The Jets have gained 2,088 yards on 55 drives led by White. That’s an average of 38.0 yards per drive – which is elite. For perspective, it would be the NFL’s third-best mark this season behind the Chiefs (41.8) and Bills (39.0).

Let’s compare that to how the Jets have looked without White. In their other 10 games with Flacco and Wilson this year, the Jets are averaging 28.0 yards per drive. That is brutal. It would rank 27th, between the Patriots (28.6) and Colts (27.6).

There’s something about White that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore by the week. He’s become much more than a game manager – he is lifting the team.

For the second straight year, the entire offense looks night-and-day different when White is out there. White is doing everything he can to eliminate the stigma that surrounds him as a 27-year-old fifth-round pick who has always been pegged as a player with limited upside.

Coming out of 2021, White’s only truly impressive performance was the one Bengals game. You couldn’t really put much stock into that since it was a one-time thing. But then he added another performance of that caliber against Chicago. And then he did it again in Minnesota.

We still need to see a lot more from White before he earns anything beyond this season, but with each passing week, it continues to become more and more realistic that he could be the real deal. Maybe.

That is a conversation for another day. Again, it’s early. At the very least, though, I think White has secured the Jets’ QB1 role for the rest of this season.

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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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Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
1 month ago

I think if White beats the Bills this week he get snapped the starter for the rest of the year. If we lose Zach’s door is still open. Zach will only play once/if we are eliminated from the playoffs, however.

DHB
DHB
1 month ago

MW’s performance, supposing it doesn’t drop off a cliff, should at least obviate the need to bring in an expensive veteran to challenge Zach in the off season.

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

Definitely, Mike White is QB1 the rest of this season. Fantastic game by White, despite the box score. Clutch throw after clutch throw into some incredibly tight windows. Frankly, we should’ve won the game. 2nd and goal on the 1, down 5?? Man. Two absolutely clutch drives in the last couple minutes? Regardless of outcome, this game was exciting and damn fun to watch. The loss doesn’t change my assessment of him or the team. The ’22 Jets are legit and with White, we are very, very dangerous. As good as any team in the AFC.

Bird9
Bird9
1 month ago

It’s not very scientific, but I didn’t once have the feeling of ‘I hope he doesn’t blow it!’ More like, ‘I hope he makes a nice play.’ It seemed harder to have confidence in Zach.

I think they should roll with White almost no matter how he plays, so I agree that he’s earned the rest of the season.

Noam
Noam
1 month ago

I agree that he played much better against Minnesota than the stats. We should also acknowledge that he has started 5 career games and he likely has a lot of room to grow. a 1st round QB will get 2-4 years to prove himself and grow but we judge a 5th rounder so much faster and are often willing to discard them after a few games. I would argue there is a lot of upside here and he deserves the chance to prove himself at least until the end of the year. That being said if we lose to the Bills and then the Lions White might find himself back on the bench. While I would rather see White finish the season I do not discount the possibility that Saleh would take him out if we start losing despite good play on his part. Both the Bills and Lions will be very difficult games for the Jets.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Noam

I agree on the white starts but he is a 5th year pro. Are we willing to give Zach 5 years? I also agree, he’s got upside and that with playing time he’ll get better not worse. It will be interesting to see what will happen if they lose both of the games you mention. I don’t think wins and losses a this point will play into the decision to get Zach on the field. I do believe Saleh when he says “Zach will play when he’s ready.” It would make no sense to put him back in there because the team is losing if he’s not actually ready. I think White finishes the season.

Noam
Noam
1 month ago
Reply to  Jets71

As a fan I have seen enough and I am not willing to give Zach next year but ultimately I will trust in the CS and FO. The CS and FO will likely bring in a vet QB that should win the job. The question is will they keep Zach as a back-up next year to sit and learn, give Zach another year if he improves or cut their losses and trade him while he still has value?

In regards to White I agree being his 5th year should allow him to mature. But I also acknowledge during most of those 5 years he was not getting much development in terms of practice snaps (scout team and only a little as 2nd QB) and almost none in terms of game snaps. While he should mature faster than a 2nd year QB I would argue that he is still very early in his development after 5 total starts and he should have a lot of upside to grow as he gets more playing time.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Noam

I’m with you 100% on Zach, at this point he earns it or he’s just not the guy. I also agree there is upside in White. I actually think this is a good QB situation for the Jets. I think White gives them a puncher’s chance to win week to week, and they also have a you guy who may develop. That said I think Zach will look different at the end of year 3 either way.

The only thing I’d say about White being in year 5 is you are correct he hasn’t had much in game snaps, but being in NFL programs, with coaching, etc, and the time to mature is huge.

I think White is the “Vet” that wins the job. Ideally, he continues his growth or Zach beats him out either way, it’s a win.

cduffynyc
cduffynyc
1 month ago
Reply to  Noam

Fair point except the comment abut trading Zach, at this point he has no value.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago

Clearly he’s a capable NFL QB at worst, and at 27, I think we haven’t seen his best. I wrote this on another chat board, I don’t think Saleh has to say “White’s the starting QB” by saying Zach will play when he’s ready is basically the same thing. The bottom line is White is the QB until someone beats him out. That may happen, it may not but let’s see if White can take some next steps.

I’ll be interested to see the breakdown from you and Vitor. He has shown much more than Zach ever has to this point and there is reason to be excited. This won’t be popular but…if we are being fair and grading him like we did Zach, then yes, that throw to Berrios needs to be in a better spot. Wilson was wide open for a would be TD that he overthrew, in the future he’s got to hit those throws. That’s how teams make the playoff, and win super bowls.

He’s exciting, the team loves playing for him, they just need to finish that game off. I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to feel today? I’m not sure if anybody else is struggling with that?

DFargas
DFargas
1 month ago
Reply to  Jets71

I feel a little ambivalent as well. White did really well in spots, but he was a bit off on two of the biggest throws of the game, and, hey, football is a game of inches. At the end of the day, they lost a very winnable game. Jets fans and the team are starved for any success at all, and no QB can be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we should just settle for half a loaf. I want to see White really close the deal on a couple of games before they anoint him the savior.

dudizt
dudizt
1 month ago

I agree, Mike white bought himself the entire season, barring an absolute meltdown in buffalo. The INTs were not his fault and he did make some great throws, but let me play a little devils advocate.

The majority of his yardage came in the second half when the Vikings were up 14 and they consistently stayed 2 scores up until the end. It felt like the D went into a little prevent to allow some yardage. He also attempted 57 passes for a YPA at 6.5 roughly which isn’t great. What is the key difference between Mike White padding his stats late similar to Flacco or Wilson in the 1st Pats game?

I also reserve the right to be completely wrong and look forward to the play by play breakdown you will release later in the week.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  dudizt

I feel the same, that we would be saying the same thing about the yards if any other Jets’ QB had them, so we need to be fair. I’m not trying to take anything away from White’s performance but everything is in play. They were in the red zone 6 times and got 1 TD, he’s the QB, he’s got to get them in, it’s his job. I’m sure he’d tell you the same thing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this team will go as far as this OL will take them. They have to be able to run the football or this season won’t end pretty. That’s everything from starting the game running the ball, to punching it in from the 1 yard line. If you looked closely particularly in the first half, Jets faced a lot of 2nd/3rd and long, Minny 3rd and short.

Crush Lafleur all you want for his play calling at the goal line but if you can’t run the ball inside the 10 you will not score. There’s just not enough space down there, and if you can’t run the ball they don’t respect the play action.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
1 month ago
Reply to  dudizt

No man, this is a bad take. If the offensive line opens up a hole large enough for Knight to run one yard then today White is a HERO. That was not padding stats. That was leading his team to overcome a two score deficit in the fourth quarter…except the goal line was actually one yard further than the team seemed to think it was.

I get the point you’re trying to make, but the Jets should’ve actually got to 28-27, 2 pt conversion try, and then keep the Vikings out of field goal range (which I am entirely confident they would’ve done). To call that “padding his stats” is not even close to accurate.

One last vaguely related item–I am really tired of empty backfields when you need one yard. I have to imagine the linebackers and strong safety breathing a sign of relief when there is absolutely no threat of a run. We’ve seen it all year, and not coincidentally, the Jets have struggled in short-yardage situations all year.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Galemmo

I wouldn’t say “padding” stats but more accumulating, great point about seeing it as carrying the team to a win. I like that.

I also agree about the empty backfields. I do like Lafleur, there is def a disconnect with a “power run” game and some “power run sets.” I have been thinking that’s the time for the 13 grouping and run to the edge, use your play-action etc. maybe they could use a FB on the roster.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
1 month ago

My #1 reason for believing White’s Halloween performance was a fluke was because of a terrible Bengal’s game plan that they never adjusted. My #2 reason was because of average depth of throw and YAC…but I now see White is largely responsible for YAC, and see reason #1 for ADOT, which I now see is also a strength of White’s–to almost immediately diagnose the play and maximize its output.

You’re right, Michael. White outplayed Cousins, and I have no idea how QBR misses that. It seems like most mainstream metrics are unreliable, go figure.

He makes mistakes (I think he missed Moore on that ill-advised 4th and 2), but he’s pretty darn good. The throw to Berrios was behind him, but he wouldn’t have gotten it past the line without a tip any other way; the arm angle was masterful. It was a GREAT throw.

This game was lost by inches, multiple times. Berrios, Wilson’s fingertips, Wilson’s toe, and certainly more. Any one of those inches goes the Jets’ way, and there is a wildly different narrative coming out this morning, in which White is a hero and the second coming of Brady.