Jets know Mike White gives team better shot at playoffs


It was never a case of love at first sight for Mike White, never an infatuation with his magical right arm, never a dream that he could one day make Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers magic.

Mike White was never going to be handed a franchise on a silver platter to call his own, was never going to be asked to take down Bill Belichick and close all the gaps in the AFC East.

But Zach Wilson fumbled, and Jets general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh are pleading with Mike White to recover for them.

They need him to be the human eraser for what no one wants to consider a jumbo jet-sized organizational catastrophe.

Here was Douglas talking about Wilson in April on “The Michael Kay Show”:

“I 100 percent see greatness. … I see a young quarterback that really went through the ringer to start the year, and what was most encouraging about Zach was when he came back, he maybe had one turnover over the last six games. He was taking care of the football, he was playing within the scheme. You really saw him take a step within the season after going through a lot of adversity early, getting injured, coming back and not having our top two receivers in Corey [Davis] and Elijah [Moore] and playing with a lot of backups at the skill position but still executing the offense at a high level.

“And so, seeing that, seeing his resiliency and his perseverance through that and keeping it all together — it gives you a lot of hope.”

Jets GM Joe Douglas (bottom inset) and coach Robert Saleh (top right) know Mike White gives them a better shot to make a playoff run than Zach Wilson (inset-center) does right now.
Jets GM Joe Douglas (bottom inset) and coach Robert Saleh (top right) know Mike White gives them a better shot to make a playoff run than Zach Wilson (inset-center) does right now.
AP; N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg (2); Bill Kostroun

Now the Jets (6-4) will stalk the playoffs with the Great White Hope instead.

The Cowboys drafted White in the fifth round in 2018 out of Western Kentucky, for which he posted the lowest interception rate from a clean pocket among draft-eligible QBs in 2017. They waived him after he could not beat out Cooper Rush as Dak Prescott’s backup. But he is who and what the Jets need right now for these reasons:

He may have just three career starts, but he knows how to play the quarterback position, knows what is required of him, knows how to lead. He is 27 years old, and he will bring a sense of calm and maturity to the huddle. His coaches and teammates trust him.

“I thought off the field, what Dak does so well is the relationships he has with every single person in that locker room and everyone in that building,” White said a year ago.


Wilson would have been Public Enemy No. 2 from his first backpedal had Saleh started him Sunday against the Bears at an ornery MetLife Stadium. He clearly would have been a boobird-magnet distraction.

White, on the other hand, shows up as Cinderella Man. Jets fans don’t ever want to let go of his 405-yard, three-TD performance last season in their team’s upset of the Bengals. Even if White were to struggle, you would not hear any “We want Zach” chorus. A moot point now, since Wilson will be inactive with Joe Flacco the backup.

Remember how this season was supposed to be about Wilson and his second-year leap?
Remember how excited Garrett Wilson, whose Ohio State quarterback was Justin Fields, was for that Wilson-to-Wilson connection?

Remember how Saleh expressed confidence that Zach Wilson could carry the Jets on his back the way he did once in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh, if circumstances demanded it?

Remember how his 5-1 record trumped everything?

It was almost as if Saleh tried to wish it into existence.

White may have been a better baseball pitcher once than a quarterback, but you can count on him to be an extension of offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. He may not have Wilson’s electric arm, but he has enough arm, and he may not have Wilson’s off-platform improvisational capabilities or ability to escape, but he can think on his feet and stand tall in the pocket and deliver.

He will play the quarterback position the way LaFleur and Saleh want it to be played. He won’t try to play hero ball. His marching orders would not be the reason if the Jets lose the game. The Jets’ defense will keep them in every game. White will do everything in his power to show that he understands the importance of complementary football.

His team will rally around him. MetLife Stadium will rally around him. The honeymoon they wanted with Zach Wilson belongs for now to Mike White instead.

When Breece Hall went down, more was asked of Wilson. He could not answer.

All the building Douglas has done around Wilson belongs to Mike White now. Wilson’s future is a mist. Douglas and Saleh do not want to face the possibility that they whiffed on Wilson, the second-overall pick of the 2021 draft. If they do, they will need to find themselves another quarterback somewhere or “Take Flight” will be nothing more than a marketing slogan, and their jobs will at some point be in peril.

No one, of course, had any idea that Kurt Warner would replace Trent Green and win Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams. The bar is lower for White, but challenging nevertheless: Ride to the rescue and save a season that can end the franchise’s 11-year-playoff drought.

Douglas and Saleh have too much invested in Zach Wilson to give up on him. Remember, they did exhaustive research on him during the pre-draft process and were convinced he was made of the right stuff. It’s too premature — and costly — for them to think otherwise.
The grim reality is that Wilson, until further notice, has turned out to be a project, and a humbled one at that. And no one can project when, or if, he will get his job back.

You won’t hear Douglas tell us he 100 percent sees greatness in White. But he is the Jets’ quarterback right now because Saleh and Douglas 100 percent did not see the team reaching the playoffs with Wilson under center.

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