What grade did NY Jets QB Mike White earn against the Minnesota Vikings?
The New York Jets lost a heartbreaker to the Minnesota Vikings, 27-22, but White racked up 369 passing yards and put together a long reel of impressive throws. However, some stats claim White played poorly, such as his 54% completion rate and his 59.8 passer rating. Plus, since the Jets lost, many have claimed that White simply did not do enough for New York to win.
When looking back at White’s film, what is the truth? Was White better than one would think if they looked at the box score and the result on the scoreboard? Or are the stats and the scoreboard telling the right story?
The QB Grades series exists to answer questions like those.
Before we get into White’s performance, check out the explanation and glossary below if you are unfamiliar with how my QB Grades series works.
My goal with this grading system is to capture the true quality of the quarterback’s performance. Box score statistics are usually misleading, as they do not account for a variety of factors that determine whether a quarterback performed well or poorly on a given play.
After re-watching each play on the All-22 film, I grade it on a 0-to-10 scale. Once I’m finished grading each play, I take the average of all plays to form a 0-to-100 overall score with 50 being approximately league-average (based on my studying of numerous other quarterback performances across the league).
Here are just a handful of the primary factors that are taken into account in the grading of each play, and a basic description of what I’m looking for:
- Decision-making (Did the QB choose the best available option or did he leave a better play on the field? Regardless of if a ball is intercepted or not, did the QB put the ball in danger of being intercepted?)
- Throw difficulty (Clean pocket or pressured? Wide open or tight window? Stationary or on the move? More difficult throws are more valuable.)
- Accuracy/placement (Even if the pass is completed, was the ball placed in the best possible spot or did the receiver have to make an extra effort to catch it? Was the ball placed in a spot that maximized YAC? Did the QB protect his receiver from a big hit?)
- Game situation – score, time, field position, down and distance (Good decisions based on the clock/situation are crucial. Playing the sticks is also important – it is not a good play to complete a tightly covered 5-yard out on third-and-10 while a 15-yard dig is open, but a 5-yard out on third-and-4 is good.)
Ultimately, it’s all about context. Not all 40-yard completions are created equal. Not all interceptions are created equal. You need to watch a play to understand whether the quarterback did a good or bad job (and exactly how good or how bad it was). The raw result of a play cannot give you that answer.
When we analyze every play on film multiple times and grade the quarterback’s individual effort independent of his surroundings or the on-paper outcome of the play, we get a much better estimation of how well he actually played.
Of course, keep in mind that these grades are subjective. They are but one man’s opinion and are not intended to be viewed as gospel. Feel free to let me know your takes on my grades for these performances.
For each performance, I include a few metrics that help explain how White arrived at his final grade.
These are some of the metrics I will break down for every game.
Overall grade: 0-to-100 grade based on the average score of all plays analyzed. An estimation of individual performance quality.
Positive plays: Number of plays graded above 5.0: above-average efforts.
Negative plays: Number of plays graded below 5.0: below-average efforts.
Neutral plays: Number of plays graded as a 5.0: plays that are not noticeably good or bad. These are typically lost plays or plays in which the QB can hardly be evaluated: screens, batted passes, miscommunications, and unavoidable sacks are commonly graded as a 5.0.
Positive/negative ratio: Ratio of positive plays to negative plays. Defines the quarterback’s consistency level.
Average positive score: The average score of all positive plays. An indicator of how high the quarterback’s peaks were — a higher score indicates his best plays were often highlight-reel-worthy while a lower score indicates that his best plays were typically unspectacular.
Average negative score: The average score of all negative plays. An indicator of how low the quarterback’s valleys were — a higher score indicates his mistakes were typically minor while a lower score indicates that his mistakes were typically brutal.
Wow Factor: Combination of average positive score and average negative score. An indicator of the combined ability to produce outstanding moments and avoid big mistakes.
7+ plays: Number of plays graded 7.0 or better: elite moments. Big-time plays, if you will.
≤3 plays: Number of plays graded 3.0 or worse: brutal moments. The ones that make Jets fans throw things at their TV.
Mike White’s grade vs. Minnesota Vikings
Let’s dig into everything that went into my 0-to-100 grade for Mike White’s performance in Minnesota.
Was this another great game by White? A sneaky bad game? A “meh” game?
Time to find out.
- Nania’s Overall Grade: 69.1 – (Average: 50, Great: 60+, Elite: 70+, Poor: <40, Awful: <30)
- Plays graded: 61
- Neutral plays: 16
- Positive plays: 34 (71.4%) – (Average: 56%, Phenomenal: >65%, Poor: <45%)
- Negative plays: 11 (21.4%) – (Average: 28%, Phenomenal: <20%, Poor: >40%)
- Positive-negative ratio: 3.09 – (Average: 2.00, Phenomenal: 3.00+, Poor: <1.00)
- Average positive: 6.05 – (Average: 5.90, High: 6.00+, Low: <5.80)
- Average negative: 3.84 – (Average: 3.80, High: 4.00+, Low: <3.60)
- Wow factor: 9.89 – (Average: 9.70, High: 10.00+, Low: <9.40)
- 7+ plays: 7 (11.5%) – (Average: 8%, Phenomenal: >12%, Poor: <4%)
- ≤3 plays: 3 (4.9%) – (Average: 8%, Phenomenal: <4%, Poor: >12%)
- Box score stats: 31/57 for 369 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT (6.5 Y/A, 59.8 QB rating). 1 sack for 3 yards. 3 rushes for 7 yards and 1 TD.
There is so much to unpack here. Before we dive into everything, let me just give my basic summary right off the top: I think Mike White had another very good game. It was not quite as clean as his Bears performance, but it was still a strong game, warts and all.
First off, let’s talk about the misleading nature of White’s box score stats.
The biggest crime of the box score is the TD-INT column. White’s two interceptions are bogus. One of them was a tipped pass on a good throw (and an arguable penalty by the defense) and the other was a last-ditch prayer on the Jets’ final chance of the game. Counting out the final pass, White did not throw any ill-advised/turnover-worthy passes, in my opinion.
As for the lack of passing touchdowns, it should be noted that White did have a rushing touchdown and he also caught a couple of bad breaks through the air. A potential touchdown pass to Corey Davis was batted at the line. Garrett Wilson barely stepped out of bounds on a near-touchdown, and on another play, he was seemingly held on a throw that had touchdown potential. Braxton Berrios dropped a pass in the end zone that he had secured to his chest.
White’s 54% completion rate is another misleading number. White was far more accurate than that 54% mark suggests.
A big reason for the low completion rate is that White had a lot of non-faulty incompletions in this game. I counted three throwaways, three anticipatory passes where the receiver did not get anywhere close to the intended target (whether they fell or let the defender stop them from reaching the spot), two passes batted at the line, one accurate throw where the receiver failed to get his feet in, and one play where White was hit as he was throwing.
Another big caveat regarding White’s accuracy was the difficulty of his pass attempts in this game. The Jets did not do a good job of creating separation against Minnesota. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur had an unusually shaky day as he schemed up fewer wide-open catches than usual, and many of the Jets’ pass-catching weapons (sans Garrett Wilson) struggled to win their routes.
Because of these factors, a fairly large chunk of White’s throws were low-percentage, tight-window attempts. White hit these throws at a really good rate, even if he did not hit them all. His completions (and even some of his incompletions that were accurately thrown but not converted upon by the receiver) tended to be highly impressive due to their difficulty. He made a lot of big-time throws, as evidenced by my average score of 6.05 for his positive plays (a well-above-standard number, telling us his highs were high) and his gaudy total of seven plays that I graded a 7.0 or better.
White was still consistent even while making plenty of high-point plays. I had him with an excellent 3.1-to-1 ratio of positive plays to negative plays, only falling slightly short of his 3.3-to-1 ratio from the Chicago game.
Looking at the flow of White’s performance, I think it is important to mention that he was certainly not great from start to finish. I thought White got off to an erratic start. Through the two-minute warning of the first half, I had White’s grade at 40.3. That isn’t terrible, but it’s subpar.
Something clicked for White starting with the Jets’ final drive of the first half. I scored him with a grade of 84.5 from that point through the end of the game. He was stellar over this stretch. Once the Jets got into catch-up mode and began asking White to carry the load with a high volume of attempts, he started to make big-time throws at a staggering frequency. He looked nothing like the game manager we all thought he was – he looked like a team-lifting quarterback.
Here is a look at my grade log for White over his five career appearances.
Mike White’s film vs. Minnesota Vikings
Let’s take a look at some of the key plays from White’s performance vs. Minnesota.
For each play in the breakdown, I’ll list the grade I gave him for that play. Anything above 5.0 is positive and helps push his overall game grade above 50.0, and vice versa for anything below 5.0.
3rd & 2 – (13:41) (Shotgun) M.White pass short middle intended for C.Davis INTERCEPTED by H.Smith (C.Bynum) at NYJ 43. H.Smith to NYJ 35 for 8 yards. Lateral to P.Peterson pushed ob at NYJ 34 for 1 yard (E.Moore).
We start off with White’s first “interception”. I actually think this is a good play.
I like the read. Starting to his left, White sees the middle of the field clear out as the linebacker follows Ty Johnson in man coverage, so White knows he has Corey Davis one-on-one on the slant and decides to take it. You could argue White should maybe take Johnson in the flat on 3rd & 2, but considering the blitzing DB in the passing lane, it’s risky. I’m cool with White’s decision to pass on that and take the clearer throwing lane to Davis.
With the defender heavily to the inside of Davis, White goes for the back-shoulder placement. He puts it in a good spot. Unfortunately, the defender hits Davis before the ball arrives (puzzling no-call) and Davis does not get a fair shot to catch the ball. The Jets get a terrible break as the ball decides to pop into the air.
Good play by White, in my opinion. It’s just thwarted by a great play from the defender (maybe too great). Grade: 6.0
2nd & 7 – (11:15) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.White pass short right to Z.Knight to NYJ 45 for 6 yards (C.Sullivan, E.Kendricks).
Most of the discussion surrounding White in this game has centered around his more aggressive plays, so I just wanted to include this play to show that White still did plenty of his bread-and-butter: just taking the easy stuff when it is given to him.
White quickly recognizes that none of the Jets’ downfield routes will be open, so he takes the dump-off to Zonovan Knight. White puts it in a good spot and Knight makes something happen. Grade: 5.25
2nd & 6 – (9:24) M.White pass incomplete short right.
These are the type of plays that go down as negative on the stat sheet but are actually positive from the quarterback’s perspective. White recognizes this screen play is busted and just throws the ball away. Good stuff. These plays often lead to disaster, so it is positive when a quarterback eliminates any chance of a negative result and just lives to fight another play. Grade: 5.25
3rd & 6 – (9:19) (Shotgun) M.White pass short right to C.Davis to MIN 30 for 17 yards (A.Evans).
White makes a lot of multi-read completions, as he does here. White starts to the right and progresses to the middle, where he sees Davis open. White fires and connects with Davis. It isn’t a perfect pass (you can even see by White’s reaction that he isn’t pleased with how the ball came out), but it isn’t abysmal. I took a little bit off my score for this play due to the accuracy but this is still a positive thanks to the field vision and the placement being good enough even if imperfect. Grade: 5.5
2nd & 10 – (8:45) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete deep right to T.Conklin.
I thought White started off the game well. He wasn’t doing anything mind-boggling but he was making the right decisions and executing his throws. Through the previous Davis play, I had yet to score him with a negative grade over his first eight plays.
This play is where White started to get into a mini funk. Beginning here, White entered a stretch of the game where he started attempting a lot of tight-window passes but couldn’t connect on most of them. He would find his footing on these throws later in the game, but White was erratic from the mid-first quarter into the second quarter.
White goes for Tyler Conklin on the fade. It’s a fine decision as there isn’t much else open and Conklin has the leverage to make this catch in a one-on-one situation with the defender inside. White just puts it a little too high. In fairness to White, Conklin is a shorter tight end at 6-foot-3 and he isn’t the greatest leaper, either, but this is still too high regardless. Not a brutal miss but a miss nonetheless. Grade: 4.25
3rd & 10 – (8:40) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short middle to T.Conklin.
There were a decent number of plays like this one – where White threw an imperfect but catchable pass and you have to try and decide how much blame you want to put on the quarterback versus the receiver.
White throws the ball a little bit behind Conklin on this slant, but that’s a ball you want Conklin to catch more often than not. I can also understand why White may have been prompted to favor placing the ball outside a bit, as the linebacker to the inside is muddying up the throwing lane and making it a tight window.
The reason I am going to knock White here is because of the down and distance. On 3rd & 10, if he is going to throw this pass, he has to put the ball in front of Conklin and lead him to some good YAC if he is going to have a shot at moving the chains. Putting the ball behind Conklin reduces his chances of doing that. Despite the linebacker, I would have liked White to put this a little further to the inside.
I went with a slight knock for White here. Grade: 4.5
1st & 15 – (5:53) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short middle to C.Davis.
This is a similar pass to the interception, albeit deeper. White misfires this time around. The ball is too far behind Davis for him to have any sort of shot at it. Grade: 4.25
2nd & 15 – (5:49) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete deep left to D.Mims (A.Evans).
As evidenced by these last two back-to-back plays, White got very aggressive at this point of the game. Perhaps too aggressive.
This is a somewhat understandable decision, as there is room to squeeze the ball to Mims here, but I think White pre-determined he was going to try this as long as he could confirm it would be open post-snap, causing him to miss on better opportunities. If he progressed to the middle of the field, he would have seen Garrett Wilson breaking open. Tyler Conklin also leaks out as a checkdown option and has a ton of room to set up a more manageable third down.
White underthrows Mims and forces him to try and make an extremely difficult catch. The defender probably arrives too early, but when you underthrow a receiver like this, officials will let the defender get away with it sometimes. Placing the ball a bit deeper would have given Mims a better shot, although the window is very small.
But that’s the nature of this throw: It’s extremely tough. I don’t think this window is enticing enough to where White should have taken it. It’s a throw that’s possible to make, sure, but it would require near perfection. It’s not a high-percentage enough throw to where I’d take it on second-and-15 and risk entering a nearly inescapable third-and-15. Grade: 4.0
2nd & 10 – (12:26) (Shotgun) M.White pass short left to G.Wilson to NYJ 40 for 15 yards (C.Bynum).
Nice field vision from White as he starts to his right, progresses to his left, and finds a wide-open Wilson for the second-and-long conversion. Grade: 5.5
1st & 10 – (3:35) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short middle to G.Wilson (K.Tonga).
We have not seen White fail to target many wide-open receivers since he entered the lineup. This is one of the rare instances.
On the top of your screen, Elijah Moore runs a vertical route and breaks wide open due to a busted coverage. The cornerback in that area follows Wilson inside on a slant, but there is no help over the top as the safety to that side is also fixated on the middle-intermediate area of the field. They both follow Wilson inside and Moore is turned loose with nobody to cover him.
White starts his progression to the right before coming back left. Before he begins pulling the trigger to Wilson, White is looking directly at the two key defenders. He can see the safety fixated inside and can also see the cornerback turn his hips inside to follow Wilson and abandon the outside. Once White sees the cornerback commit inside, it should alert him to at least check on Moore to the outside. With that cornerback coming inside, nobody is out there to stop Moore.
Instead, White goes for Wilson to the inside. The pass gets deflected at the line so it’s anybody’s guess as to what would have happened, but White missed the best available throw here and I’m not sure he even should have tried the slant. The linebacker sitting underneath is in a good position to make a play on it. It would have been one heck of a needle-threader if White completed that. I think he should have seen the cornerback cheat inside and progress to the next read.
In fairness to White, this would take some very quick recognition and decision-making to capitalize on. White is not expecting the Vikings to bust a coverage that badly. His thought process here was probably that if he saw a big hole in the middle of the field, he would throw it to Wilson, and that’s what he does. Still, White had enough time to recognize the bust and get to the next read. Big missed opportunity. Moore likely scores on this. Grade: 3.0
2nd & 10 – (3:31) (Shotgun) M.White pass short left to G.Wilson to NYJ 35 for 10 yards (A.Evans) [Z.Smith].
White quickly bounced back after missing the Moore play. Taking a hit in the process, he fits this ball into Garrett Wilson between two defenders. Grade: 6.0
2nd & 7- (2:24) M.White pass incomplete deep left to G.Wilson [Z.Smith].
White’s pocket poise is typically good, but this is a rare instance where I think he gets too frenzied. With the pocket collapsing, White steps up. But he starts running straight down the field for some reason. He has plenty of time and space to just slide away from the traffic and continue standing tall. If he does this, he will locate Wilson on-time and have a good base to deliver an accurate throw.
Instead, White is late to recognize Wilson because he puts his head down for a moment, and then when he does recognize Wilson, his throw is inaccurate since he is on the run.
This would be a tough throw even if White did stand tall, so it’s not the most egregious missed opportunity I’ve ever seen, but it’s still a miss. Grade: 3.5
4th & 2 – (2:00) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short middle to T.Conklin (C.Sullivan).
On this fourth-and-2 attempt by the Jets, I think White takes the best option. Everything outside of Conklin is covered up. Some people might make a case for Moore on the drag route, but the linebacker has him blanketed. Conklin is the place to go here.
I don’t think Conklin does a good job here. Firstly, he takes that route too far downfield with only two yards to go. Secondly, once he does turn around, his break is not sharp at all; he continues drifting deeper rather than sharply sitting it down. This is an uncharacteristically poor route from Conklin.
The placement from White is fine. It arrives at Conklin’s eye-line and he gets two hands on it. The defender just makes a great play to break it up, largely because Conklin’s lackluster route gave him a better chance to get in there.
I can’t criticize White for this one. I think he did what he could with what was available. Grade: 5.25
2nd & 2 – (:35) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.White pass deep left to G.Wilson ran ob at MIN 49 for 18 yards.
And here it is – the play that flipped the switch for White. It was a roller-coaster ride up to this point, but from here on out, White played like a star, in my opinion.
This is a special throw. A window along the sideline can hardly get any tighter. White zips it in there with perfect placement. Throws like these prove that his arm strength may be a lot better than people give him credit for. Grade: 9.0
2nd & 10 – (:23) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete deep left to E.Moore.
Great ball from White as he gets it past the underneath defender and in front of the defender over top. He squeezes it to Moore along the sideline, and it comes in a big spot as the Jets are attempting to drive into field goal range. Moore has to get his feet down in bounds. This is a strike from White. Grade: 6.5
2nd & 9 – (12:27) (No Huddle) M.White pass deep middle to G.Wilson to MIN 37 for 23 yards (A.Evans).
Nice anticipation from White on this throw as he begins his windup before Wilson comes out of his break and turns his head around. White sees the middle of the field open up and knows he will have Wilson if Wilson can win, so the moment he sees Wilson get the defender to bite outside, he starts winding up. The defender’s leverage (hips turned outside) makes White confident that Wilson will win.
Great in-stride placement as the window is still fairly tight despite Wilson winning. White also gets this out just in time as pressure arrives off the edge; I think seeing this out of the corner of his eye helped prompt him to pull the trigger confidently. Grade: 7.0
3rd & 7 – (9:52) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short left to G.Wilson.
Based on where White anticipates Wilson to be, this is good placement. But Wilson gets held as he comes out of his break, and this causes him to be late to the spot. I think this is a missed call by the officials.
Even if it is not a flag, the bottom line for White is that he put the ball where it should go and it only looks inaccurate because the receiver got slowed up post-release. This is a potential touchdown. I like the play from White – it’s too hypothetical to label this as a dime, so I won’t give him a ton of credit, but this is a positive for me in terms of the decision and the apparent quality of the placement. Grade: 5.5
2nd & 7 – Qtr: 3, (6:38) (Shotgun) M.White pass short right to Z.Knight to NYJ 37 for 8 yards (P.Peterson; J.Hicks).
I wanted to include this play because I think it is a great encapsulation of White’s mentality and why it is the stuff of a legitimately good starting quarterback in the NFL.
Check out Elijah Moore from the bottom of the screen. He gets open here. But White goes for the checkdown to Knight.
Let me explain why Jets fans should love that.
White starts over the middle and is looking in the direction where Moore will end up, but the thing is, it does not become obvious that Moore is open until after White moves off the read. Sure, White could have anticipated Moore would be open based on the movement of the defenders (especially that linebacker who turns his hips downfield and sprints to vacate the middle), but he would have had to wait for it and confirm it. That linebacker could have stayed home and that cornerback on the outside could have followed Moore inside – these things are unlikely based on their movements, but you have to respect the possibility when you are looking at the snapshot White sees immediately post-snap.
Meanwhile, based on what White was immediately seeing post-snap (all defenders backpedaling, nobody covering Knight out of the backfield man-to-man), he knew he had the checkdown wide open. So, on second-and-7, White takes the sure thing rather than holding onto the ball and waiting for a potentially bigger play to open up.
It sums up White’s play style: He is a fast processor who takes what he knows he has. He is not going to hang onto a read and wait for it to potentially be open. If he is not certain the read is open, he quickly progresses to the next read. Sometimes, that will result in him bypassing a read that comes open after he moves off it, such as on this play (and we will see another play like this), but that is something you live with for the reward of White being a higher-floor quarterback who eliminates risk and does a great job of ensuring plays result in positives.
In this particular situation, sticking to Moore probably would have worked out, but in many other situations, hanging onto a read too long will result in a negative. If the QB hangs onto a read too long and the player does not get open, it puts the QB behind in his timing and the whole progression is ruined. He will be late to the next reads and likely miss his opportunities to hit them, and additionally, the odds of a sack increase. So, picture on this play that White sticks with Moore and the linebacker stays home to shut the route down. Now, White would be late to get to Knight on the checkdown and the defense would have collapsed on him quicker, resulting in a much smaller gain (if any).
But as White is showing, he is not merely a checkdown king who plays it too safe and bypasses too many potentially big throws. This mentality applies to aggressive throws, too. If White reads that a tight-window downfield throw is open, he’ll take that just as quickly as he will take a checkdown. We’ve already seen many plays in this breakdown that exemplify this. Think back to the throw to Davis on the first drive that got picked off (not his fault). White could have taken the dump-off to Johnson but he couldn’t be sure about it due to the blitzing safety obstructing the lane. So he went downfield to the one-on-one matchup he knew with certainty that he had.
To me, this mentality is that of a good quarterback. White goes through his reads quickly and takes the surest option he can find, regardless of whether that option is aggressive or conservative. He is equally willing to take both.
Okay, sorry for rambling there on a clip of a measly checkdown. My grade for this one is a 5.25. Moving on… (If you’re still reading this over 4,500 words in, thanks for sticking around.)
2nd & 8 – (4:53) (Shotgun) M.White pass deep right to C.Uzomah to MIN 17 for 31 yards (H.Smith).
White finally gets a wide-open receiver presented to him and I like how he takes advantage of it. He leads Uzomah downfield to make sure Uzomah can get as much YAC as he can. It’s a tad risky as it makes the catch tougher than if White sacrificed some YAC to just put it on Uzomah’s body, but Uzomah makes a great catch. It’s a massive gain thanks to the placement. Grade: 6.0
2nd & 16 – (1:51) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short left to T.Conklin (D.Shelley) [H.Phillips].
Conklin is unable to make a tough contested catch, but the fact that White even creates a chance for Conklin here is special. As he steps up and absorbs an enormous hit, White fires an opposite-hash out route 22 yards downfield (from where he threw it) that lands in a catchable spot. Great coverage denies the completion, but from the QB’s perspective, this is an absurd throw considering the circumstances. Grade: 8.0
1st & 10 – (14:46) (Shotgun) M.White pass short middle to G.Wilson pushed ob at MIN 11 for 60 yards (C.Bynum).
After the play fake, White does a great job using his eyes to open the throwing window. Watch him keep his eyes to the left to draw the linebacker out of the throwing lane to Wilson over the middle. Once he sees the linebacker skip to his right, White whips his eyes back over the middle and throws a missile to Wilson. The perfect in-stride ball placement allows Wilson to maintain his current speed and use it to bounce off the defender.
With anything less than a perfect throw here, Wilson would have been stopped right after the catch, but White continues to show off his ability to maximize YAC potential for the pass-catcher. Grade: 7.0
3rd & 7 – (12:38) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short middle to C.Davis (Z.Smith).
White wants Davis on this throw, and if it doesn’t get tipped, it would have had a real shot at being a touchdown. Davis had leverage to the inside and there was no defender in the middle to deny him. I gave White a minor positive here for making the right read with Davis. Grade: 5.25
2nd & 5 – (7:31) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short right to E.Moore (D.Shelley).
I think White makes the right decision here. There isn’t much open.
White first looks at Wilson’s slant, but the coverage is tight and there is traffic inside. Maybe you could argue White should have tried to go over the linebackers and place this in the back of the end zone for Wilson, but it’s tough, so I see why White continues in the progression.
White goes right, where I believe the Jets are attempting to get Davis to clear out room inside for Moore. Nothing materializes as planned. Moore is blanketed on his pivot route, as he fakes outside and comes back inside but is mirrored perfectly by the defender.
White takes Moore. The ball isn’t terrible as it arrives slightly above Moore’s head and Moore gets his hands on it, but the defender is tight enough to easily break up the pass.
I think White should have placed this ball lower to try and prevent the defender from making a play. Let Moore go down and get it. That’s my knock for White here. Still, it’s hard to crush White for plays like this when the options are so limited. This is not a high-percentage play for the quarterback. He has no favorable options available to him and is forced to try a difficult throw.
It seems like Mike LaFleur was banking heavily that Wilson would open up by virtue of either the Vikings blitzing or the second-level defenders biting on the play fake. The Jets keep Knight and Conklin in to protect while the Vikings rush four, leaving the Jets with three receivers against seven defenders in coverage, and that is the main reason they don’t have a good option here. It’s hard to get someone open in the red zone when it’s three on seven. This was all about Wilson and it didn’t work as planned. You have to give credit to Harrison Smith – the safety sitting near the goal line beneath the “I” in “Vikings” – for not biting and holding his position. That is what took Wilson away as an option.
For White here, I give him a minor knock for the placement on this ball, but this is a very hopeless scenario for the QB so it’s the most minor of negative plays that a QB can have in my opinion. Grade: 4.75
3rd & 5 – (7:27) (Shotgun) M.White scrambles left end to MIN 1 for 4 yards (J.Hicks).
Another red-zone play with no favorable targets open for the quarterback. But this time a scrambling opportunity opens up. White eventually utilizes it, but he takes way too long to start running. Let’s be honest – this is a touchdown for Zach Wilson (and probably more than half of starting quarterbacks in the NFL). I like the power that he finishes with, but White’s lack of open-field athleticism is apparent on this play, as well as his lack of willingness to run. Got to take this with more decisiveness. Grade: 4.5
1st & 10 – (5:30) M.White pass incomplete deep right to G.Wilson.
The Jets dial up a stop-and-go shot to Wilson on the first play of this clutch fourth-quarter drive and it works. Wilson toasts Patrick Peterson and has 3-4 yards of separation while White gets a fantastic pocket to throw from. White takes the shot and just barely overthrows Wilson, although even with a lunging dive, Wilson had no shot at it.
Usually I am lenient on quarterbacks for missing go routes, as they are so darn tough to complete, but I have to knock White hard for this one. With that much separation and that good of a pocket, this is as favorable as a go ball will get. Huge missed opportunity. Grade: 3.0
2nd & 10 – (5:24) (Shotgun) M.White pass deep right to C.Davis to NYJ 39 for 23 yards (C.Bynum) [D.Tomlinson].
White bounced straight back from the Wilson miss with an elite dime to Davis. Firstly, White does a great job of quickly resetting his position in the pocket as he sees the potential pressure arriving. Then, with pressure bearing down and knowing he will take a hit, White loads up and fires to Davis while absorbing the shot. White gets enough touch to loft it over the underneath defender and drops it into Davis in stride, right in front of the defender over top. An absolute beaut. Grade: 9.0
2nd & 4 – (4:40) (Shotgun) M.White pass short left to B.Berrios ran ob at MIN 47 for 8 yards (H.Smith).
Interesting play to grade here. Mims gets wide open on a post over the middle, but White takes the easy first down to Berrios on second-and-4.
Like we discussed in my rambling section earlier, this is White doing what he does: taking what he knows he has. On second down of a game-winning drive attempt, why not take a free first down if you know you have it?
Still, Mims is so wide open that it would have been defensible to stick with him and try the downfield throw. And based on the initial post-snap look from the defense, it should be clear to White that Mims could be open.
The only threat is Harrison Smith sitting between the hashes and the numbers with his hips turned inside. With Mims breaking inside and toward Smith on the post, I could see Smith being a potential threat if White were to lead Mims, so maybe Smith is what prompts White to pass on Mims. Smith’s initial post-snap position is a much better spot to defend Mims’s route than where Smith eventually goes; where Smith ends up going later is misleading, as Smith slides right in reaction to White coming off the middle reads and looking in that direction. Look at where Smith is right when White pulls the ball away from the RB – that’s what White is seeing and using to decide whether he should look at Mims.
I also really like the placement on this throw to Berrios, as White hits him in perfect stride to get the most YAC possible out of the play, so that offsets things a bit.
Ultimately, I went with a neutral grade here. I’m cool with the decision in this situation and I like the throw, but I cannot completely overlook Mims being that wide open. It’s a wash for me. Grade: 5.0
2nd & 10 – (3:59) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete deep right to E.Moore.
I’m not on the team so I do not know with certainty what the Jets called for Moore here, but it seems like a poor job by him. White sees Moore’s defender getting rubbed by another defender and anticipates Moore will get over the top, but after White throws the ball, Moore fails to get through the defender and beat him to the spot, and he just stops running his route.
I gave White a neutral grade for this one (fine decision but a tough play to fully judge considering its broken nature). I just wanted to include it to show another example where White did not get the best help from his receivers in the route-running department. He gets charged with an incompletion for a pass that isn’t necessarily inaccurate. Grade: 5.0
4th & 10 – (3:47) (Shotgun) M.White pass deep middle to C.Davis to MIN 16 for 31 yards (C.Bynum).
This is the most clutch play I have seen from a Jets quarterback in a long time, and simply put, one of the best plays I have seen from a Jets quarterback.
Moments after taking a bone-crushing shot that left him wincing on the ground, White got up and fired a fourth-and-10 laser into the tightest of windows that could possibly exist. He was under duress, too. Once again, watch how he resets himself before the pressure arrives. He sees the pressure will be coming, so before it even gets through, he distances himself from it. The extra space buys him enough time to get set and fire. White confidently rockets the ball despite seeing a defender running free into his face.
The fact that the Jets ended up losing should not take away from the brilliance of this play. This is as good as it gets for the quarterback position. Grade: 10.0
3rd & 1 – (1:50) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short right to G.Wilson.
Yet another bad-break incompletion by White as he anticipates Wilson reaching the back pylon on a fade, but Wilson slips. Grade: 5.0
4th & 1 – (1:46) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short middle to B.Berrios (J.Hicks).
White did throw this a little bit behind Berrios, so I have to knock him a tad. With a perfect ball out in front, Berrios’s odds of catching the pass would be higher.
Still, this ball gets into Berrios’s chest. He snatches it and pulls it into his body. Berrios just lets it pop out after he hits the ground, unforced by any defender.
You have to catch this if you’re Berrios. It is not a perfect throw, but it is more than good enough.
It’s another one of these plays where you try to split the blame between the QB and the receiver for a dropped pass that was inaccurate but catchable. For me, I’m going something like 20% White and 80% Berrios. Grade: 4.5
2nd & 4 – (:58) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.White pass deep left to G.Wilson to MIN 19 for 18 yards (H.Smith) [D.Tomlinson].
White spurred the Jets’ last-ditch drive with yet another big-time throw. The touch and timing on this pass are tremendous as he lofts it over two underneath defenders and drops it into Wilson’s chest with a defender closing in behind him. There is also interior pressure coming in. Grade: 9.0
3rd & 10 – (:23) (Shotgun) M.White pass incomplete short right to E.Moore.
I think this was White’s worst play of the game. After White rolls out, Moore improvises well and sets himself up along the sideline for a catch that would put the Jets in first-and-goal with four shots to win it. White has a clean window to Moore; the defenders in Moore’s area are far off and the rusher chasing White is not all that close. White tries to give Moore a ball to the outside that he can toe-tap catch and get out of bounds with, but White overcompensates and badly misses. It’s a very makable throw that White really needed to have. Grade: 2.0
4th & 10 – (:16) (Shotgun) M.White pass deep middle intended for C.Davis INTERCEPTED by C.Bynum [D.Wonnum] at MIN 1. C.Bynum to MIN 6 for 5 yards.
The final play of the game. I think White does the best he can with it. Edge pressure arrives off the left side pretty quickly and White just fires a prayer into the end zone. There is no great option here.
You could argue Moore is an option, who wins outside against the linebacker, but considering the clock situation (16 seconds at start of play, Jets have no timeouts), it could have been risky to complete that pass short of the end zone. The cornerback to the outside has inside leverage and eyes on the QB, so he was well-positioned to come down and tackle Moore.
White started his read to the left and probably passed on the idea of Moore when he saw the corner. While looking left, he probably also saw the edge pressure coming off that side and moved to his next read since Moore was not open yet at this time.
I don’t think there is anything good White could have done here. Grade: 5.0
Another impressive game from Mike White
Whew! If you’re still here, give yourself a pat on the back. This is the longest article I have ever written since I started covering the Jets. What a marathon that was. White and the Jets made it tough on me as the man dropped back a whopping 62 times, but there was just so much to talk about and I couldn’t cut any corners.
I think White played a strong game. It was imperfect and there were mistakes – absolutely. But I think the good far outweighed the bad.
It was impressive how White responded after an inconsistent start. The Jets asked the guy who we all labeled a “game manager” to pass the ball almost 60 times and attempt numerous low-percentage throws to try and pull them out of a 20-3 deficit. And he did just about everything he could to do his part in spurring the comeback. Yes, White could have gotten the Jets over the hump if he made just one of those few plays he missed, but the Jets would not have gotten anywhere close to completing the comeback if not for the many outstanding plays White did make.
The most impressive aspect of White’s performance so far this season has been his work in the big-play department. Everyone knew White could do a respectable job at executing the easy stuff. The question mark was his ceiling – could he make special plays to lift the Jets up when they need them? In Minnesota, White answered that question with a resounding yes. He built on the success he had with tight-window throws against Chicago, and most importantly, he did it in clutch situations while trailing on the road against a 9-2 team.
I am blown away by White’s work over these first two games. I expected a heady, safe, high-floor/low-ceiling guy who would make the Jets look competent but nothing more. So far, New York has gotten something far greater than that.
I’m looking forward to seeing if White can continue stringing these performances together. Buffalo will be a tremendous measuring stick. Not only will the Bills be the first elite defense White has faced this season, but they are the same team that pulled him down to Earth last year with a four-interception beatdown that sent him to the bench for good.
If White can conquer his nemesis in Western New York… things will get serious. For now, we’re still in wait-and-see mode. But if you’re a Jets fan, it’s hard to not be at least a little bit excited about the potential White is showing.
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