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By: Michael Nania
What grade did NY Jets QB Mike White earn against the Seattle Seahawks?
Our QB Grades series continues with Mike White’s return to the field.
The New York Jets were eliminated from the playoffs with a 23-6 loss in Seattle. White did not provide the spark that Jets fans hoped he would.
White looked bad. But did he actually perform that poorly? Or were other parties to blame for the Jets’ ugly output in the passing game?
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 independent of his surroundings. Box score statistics are usually misleading, as they do not account for a variety of factors that are crucial to consider when determining how well the quarterback performed on a given play. Even advanced metrics tend to overlook some important details.
If I had to choose one word to summarize the goal of this system, it would be this: contextualize.
I want to use the film to contextualize quarterback evaluation in ways that statistics cannot. The mission is to account for essential factors of quarterback play that can only be seen by combing through the footage of each play.
Essentially, I am looking to quantify the “eye test”.
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 few basic examples that sum up what I’m looking for:
- Decision-making/Field-reading (Did the QB choose the best available option or did he leave a better play on the field? Did he go through his progressions on time/correctly? Regardless of whether a ball is actually intercepted or not, did the QB put the ball in danger of being intercepted? These are just a few basic examples; all aspects of decision-making, field-reading, and processing are considered.)
- Throw difficulty (Clean pocket or pressured? Wide open or tight window? Stationary or on the move? Short or deep? Same hash or opposite hash? Anticipatory or already open? The more difficult a throw is to execute, the more valuable it is.)
- 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? Additionally, QBs deserve credit for throwing good passes that are dropped, whereas most stats will blame them for an incompletion.)
- 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.)
Once again, the goal is to properly contextualize each situation. 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 he did). Simply looking at the result of a play cannot give you these answers.
When we tirelessly analyze every play on film 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. Seattle Seahawks
Let’s dig into everything that went into my 0-to-100 grade for Mike White’s performance against Seattle.
White clearly struggled. But how much?
Time to find out.
- Nania’s Overall Grade: 12.1 – (Average: 50, Great: 60+, Elite: 70+, Poor: <40, Awful: <30)
- Plays graded: 41 (One garbage-time drive was excluded)
- Neutral plays: 10
- Positive plays: 12 (29.3%) – (Average: 50%, Phenomenal: >60%, Poor: <40%)
- Negative plays: 19 (46.3%) – (Average: 30%, Phenomenal: <20%, Poor: >40%)
- Positive-negative ratio: 0.63 – (Average: 2.00, Phenomenal: 3.00+, Poor: <1.00)
- Average positive: 5.73 – (Average: 5.90, High: 6.00+, Low: <5.80)
- Average negative: 3.38 – (Average: 3.80, High: 4.00+, Low: <3.60)
- Wow factor: 9.11 – (Average: 9.70, High: 10.00+, Low: <9.40)
- 7+ plays: 1 (2.4%) – (Average: 8%, Phenomenal: >12%, Poor: <4%)
- ≤3 plays: 9 (22.0%) – (Average: 8%, Phenomenal: <4%, Poor: >12%)
- Box score stats: 23/46 for 240 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT (5.2 Y/A, 47.4 passer rating). 4 sacks for 36 yards. 1 lost fumble.
Let’s just put it plainly: White was atrocious. He was wildly inconsistent, did not produce any special highlights, and made a ton of crushing mistakes. This was as bad as any of Zach Wilson’s games this year.
Through both good route-running and good scheming, the Jets had open receivers running around all afternoon, but White continuously failed to capitalize. Plays were there to be made and White was not making them.
White was also very careless with the football. He threw two bad interceptions and was nearly picked off on multiple other occasions. White even lost a fumble on a pointless end-of-half play in the second quarter after holding onto the ball for too long in a zero-upside situation.
However, my main takeaway from this game is not that White was terrible. It was that he should not have played.
I believe the majority of White’s issues in this game were a product of his rib injuries.
From a mentality standpoint, White looked nothing like the quarterback we saw from Weeks 12 to 14. Over that stretch, White was fearless and confident. In Seattle, White was afraid, hesitant, and jittery.
Prior to his injuries, White was willing to stand tall in the pocket and deliver the ball while taking a hit. But in his return, White would compromise his throwing mechanics to avoid contact, and it led to poor accuracy.
White’s footwork looked significantly worse because he did not want to step up in the pocket and into hits like he used to. You would often see White drag his front foot to the outside rather than driving it forward and pointing it toward the target, which is something he did so consistently in his first three games.
From a mental perspective, White’s confidence was shot. White had the guts to try any throw in the book throughout his first three games. Against the Seahawks, we saw White take checkdowns or throwaways when receivers were open deep. White also looked rattled in the pocket. He would pull the ball back down after starting his windup, and he would even bail from the pocket rather than stepping up, which is something he generally never does.
For the most part, the injury effects appeared to be mental, but I wonder if White may have still been experiencing slight pain that threw off his mechanics a little bit. His throwing motion just didn’t look the same. It seemed like he was relying more heavily on his arm and was not generating as much torque in his lower body.
I’m not going to crush White for this game because it seems clear to me that he was in a condition where he was unable to play his best. Still, the results are the results, and in this game, the results were extremely bad. White is the main reason New York lost this game.
Mike White’s film vs. Seattle Seahawks
Usually, in this section of the article, I include dozens of plays and break down each one individually.
This time around, I figured the best way to communicate the main storyline of White’s film would be to simply agglomerate some of his worst mistakes into one clip. Watching all of these plays consecutively will clearly display the ways in which White was limited by the lingering effects of his rib fractures. This is not the Mike White that we saw from Weeks 12 to 14.
The reel above showcases a quarterback who operated with poor footwork, fear of pressure, hesitancy, a lack of confidence, and overly conservative decision-making. None of those things could be seen on White’s film over his first three games. I think it’s clear White was not ready to take the field.
Mike White probably should not have played in Seattle
It is tough to say with certainty whether the Jets could have foreseen White playing this way. Perhaps White felt like he was 100% healthy from a physical standpoint and communicated that to the team throughout the week. Neither the team nor White himself could predict how he would react from a mental standpoint until he stepped onto the field in live-game action against 11 opponents.
That environment cannot be simulated in practice. If White was cleared by the doctors and insists he is not feeling any pain, there’s no reason he shouldn’t play. The Jets should be cut some slack if this was the case. And you know White is going to give it a shot as long as the team lets him. White has proven he is the ultimate competitor – after the Bills game, he said “you would’ve had to peel me off that field.”
The most realistic thing New York probably could have done is make the switch to Joe Flacco at halftime. Sometimes, you have to overrule a player’s insistence that he is healthy. Players will rarely admit their limitations and take themselves out of games, especially those who are as stubbornly competitive as White. New York’s staff should have noticed White was clearly not one hundred percent in the first half and taken him out.
It’s a difficult situation since the Jets were so eager to get White back after what happened over the last few games. Flacco was horrendous in relief of White when he momentarily left the Buffalo game. Zach Wilson was awful over two starts after White left. And the Jets trusted Flacco so little that they instead turned to Chris Streveler when they benched Wilson against Jacksonville. White was supposed to be the savior.
But it’s pretty evident to me, based on his tape, that White was rushed back onto the field. I understand that may have been hard to predict based on what transpired in practice ahead of the game. However, it did not take long for that to become clear after the game started.
Benching White for Flacco would have been a gutsy move by Saleh after White had been placed on such a high pedestal while Flacco had been tossed to the curb. In hindsight, though, it may have been the right move. I doubt Flacco would have won the game or performed admirably, but I think he would’ve done at least slightly better than White.
Maybe my Flacco suggestion is crazy. Trust me, I don’t want to watch him any more than you do. Hey, maybe they should have turned to Streveler again. I just wonder whether the Jets could have found a better solution than using a clearly-limited Mike White.
What’s next for Mike White?
White’s one bad game in Seattle does not erase the impressiveness of his first three games. He remains an intriguing quarterback based on what he has done this year. Even if you throw the Seattle game into the mix, his four-game body of work this season is still above-average, in my opinion. I have his 2022 season grade at a solid 56.4. And it’s questionable as to whether the Seattle game should even be included in his evaluation since he appeared to be less than one hundred percent.
However, what White’s Seattle game does do is remove him from contention for the Jets’ QB1 role going into 2023. White could still return as a backup or to compete for the starting job against a more established quarterback, but he can no longer be considered an option to be chosen as the Jets’ primary quarterback entering training camp.
From the moment he was announced as the starter going into the Chicago game, White always had a difficult road to winning the 2023 starting job outright based solely on his play in 2022. It’s simply a matter of sample size. White is a fifth-year player who entered this season with only two fully-played starts in his career.
Even if he never got hurt, White would still only get to play a maximum of seven games in this year’s regular season – giving him a maximum of nine career starts coming out of 2022. Once he got hurt, things became even tougher, reducing his maximum total to five games. That would put his maximum career total at seven starts. It’s too risky to rely on someone as your starter based on such a small sample.
For me, the only way White could have played his way into being considered an option to be “the guy” for the Jets is if he played very well in every game he played this season and got the Jets to the playoffs. The Seattle game squashed this scenario. It put White back into a position where he is a wild card that cannot be relied upon – regardless of the fact that he may have been in limited condition. In fact, if he truly was limited, it only further adds to his unreliability since durability is one of his main concerns.
Still, White placed his career on a positive trajectory with how he played in the regular season. He exited the preseason as a fringe QB3 with an uncertain NFL future. Now, I think he has played himself into a nice contract this offseason, whether it be as a backup, a competitor to start, or even a starter. He bought himself some extra years in the league and earned himself a lot of money (although the Seattle game definitely cost him some dough).
White’s odds of being the Jets’ starter in 2023 appear to be slim now that he has crashed back down to Earth. But I am interested to see what he goes on to accomplish in his NFL career, whether it is in New York or elsewhere. I think he has some real potential.
White does have one game left, though, so let’s see how he finishes the year.
Next Article: It’s obvious who the NY Jets’ 2023 QB should be
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Originally posted on Jets X-Factor