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

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By: Michael Nania

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.

Next Article: Mike White seizes the NY Jets moment in familiar fearless fashion 

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