New York Jets coach Robert Saleh wouldn’t get into hypotheticals regarding the quarterback position, declining to say if rookie Zach Wilson would return to the starting lineup when healthy or whether Gang Green could stick Mike White if the backup continues to shine.
With New York preparing to face the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night, Jets general manager Joe Douglas reiterated the plan to make no proclamations about the QB gig until forced.
“At this point, positive vibes only and we have a tough assignment this week in terms of Indianapolis,” he said, via the team’s official website. “That’s our only focus and getting Mike ready for Indianapolis and trying to beat a very tough opponent on the road on a short week. That is our primary focus and I’m in lockstep with Coach. Anything other than that, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
White is coming off a sterling performance in the Jets upset victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The 26-year-old earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 405 pass yards, three pass TD, two INT performance in the 34-31 win in his first career start. Shining in prime time against the Colts would make it tough for the Jets to go back to Wilson coming off injury.
White became the only QB since 1950 with 400-plus passing yards and three passing TD in his first career start. He’s the 10th QB to throw three-plus passing TDs and more than 300 yards in his first start (Notables: HOF Kurt Warner, HOF Dan Marino, JAX Trevor Lawrence).
The performance from White stood in stark contrast with Wilson’s play this season. Where the rookie constantly searched for the big play, White took what the defense gave him time after time after time. White finished Sunday’s game with an average of 4.1 intended air yards, per Next Gen Stats — only Daniel Jones (4.0) was lower for the week. Running back Michael Carter saw 14 passes his way, catching nine for 95 yards. Fellow running back Ty Johnson caught 5 of 6 for 71 yards and a score.
Pointing out White’s preference to check the ball down isn’t a knock on the QB. It’s how OC Mike LaFleur’s offense operates. Get the ball out to open players and let them run in space. Bengals defenders are going to have nightmares about all the YAC Jets players gobbled up.
Having seen White succeed with such precision, the question is whether Wilson will take that lesson to heart when he re-enters the lineup at some point — whenever that is.
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