Despite NY Jets’ loss, did Mike White clinch QB1 for rest of year?

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By: Michael Nania

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 are 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.

Next Article: NY Jets lose a tough one to Vikings, 27-22 | Highlights 

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