Analyzing the tendencies of NY Jets QB Mike White
We know the unit has been better. But how has it been different?
I’m talking about the unit’s stylistic tendencies. What routes do the Jets target more and less often?
Let’s dive into some of the quarterbacking tendencies Mike White has displayed over his first two games of 2022.
Affinity for in-breaking routes
White loves to target routes that break toward the middle of the field. This makes him a perfect fit for the Jets’ scheme.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, White has targeted an inside-breaking route on 38.8% of his pass attempts, ranking third-highest out of 40 qualified quarterbacks this season:
- Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (45.1%)
- Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (44.8%)
- Mike White, NYJ (38.3%)
- Marcus Mariota, ATL (38.3%)
- Dak Prescott, DAL (38.2%)
League average: 31.8%
Look at the only two QBs who rank ahead of White. They each come from the same coaching tree as Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense is what LaFleur’s scheme is based on, as LaFleur spent four years under Shanahan in San Francisco before joining the Jets. The same goes for Miami’s Mike McDaniel, who worked alongside LaFleur with the 49ers.
In-breakers are supposed to be a huge part of this offense. They facilitate yards after the catch, which is one of the scheme’s top priorities.
However, the Jets’ previous two quarterbacks targeted in-breaking routes far less frequently. Joe Flacco ranks 34th out of 40 qualifiers with only 25.8% of his passes going to in-breakers. Zach Wilson ranks 30th at 27.5%.
LaFleur’s offense is not designed to target in-breakers at a bottom-10 frequency. These throws are intended to be the bread and butter.
White is doing a better job of executing the scheme than his predecessors.
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Plenty of slants
White’s favorite in-breaker to throw (relative to league average) is the slant. White has targeted a slant route on 10.8% of his pass attempts, ranking third-highest:
- Josh Allen, BUF (11.3%)
- Dak Prescott, DAL (11.1%)
- Mike White, NYJ (10.8%)
- Bailey Zappe, NE (10.3%)
- Matt Ryan, IND (9.8%)
League average: 6.5%
White is 6-of-9 for 100 yards on slants. It is a tiny sample, but he leads the league with 11.1 yards per attempt on slants.
Still works outside, too
Inside-breaking routes are White’s primary weapon, but he also targets outside-breaking routes at a high frequency.
White has targeted an outside-breaking route on 36.5% of his passes, ranking third-highest:
- Andy Dalton, NO (38.5%)
- Joe Flacco, NYJ (36.8%)
- Mike White, NYJ (36.5%)
- Ryan Tannehill, TEN (35.1%)
- Justin Herbert, LAC (34.5%)
League average: 30.1%
Relative to league average, White’s favorite out-breaker is the “corner” route. He has thrown five corners, making up 6.0% of his passes, which ranks second-highest (league average: 3.2%). White completed four of those five attempts for 82 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Does not like go routes or hitch routes
We’ve mentioned that White ranks top-three when it comes to both in-breaking frequency and out-breaking frequency. What doesn’t he like, then?
White has targeted a “go” route on just 6.0% of his passes this season, ranking fifth-lowest (league average: 9.2%). He’s completed just one of his five passes that were classified as a go route; the one completion was thrown to a wide-open C.J. Uzomah against Minnesota. It should be noted that the league-average completion percentage on go routes is only 38.5%, so you can’t hammer a quarterback too hard when he misses one. Hitting two out of every five is the expectation.
We have yet to see White attempt a “wheel” route, although those are uncommon anyway (league average: 0.6%).
By far, the route White is the most averse to is the “hitch” route, which is generally classified by Next Gen Stats as any route where the receiver sits down at a spot on the field and turns their body back toward the QB. Hitches make up only 7.2% of White’s passes, which is less than half of the league average (15.3%) and ranks second-lowest.
Comparing route tendencies of Jets quarterbacks
Here is a comparison of White, Flacco, and Wilson’s route tendencies, as tracked by NFL Next Gen Stats:
It seems as if White has discovered a balance that is ideal for this Jets offense. We shall see if he can keep it going beyond only two games. More importantly, we must see how he adapts when opponents adjust to take away the things he likes.