Mike White started three games for the Jets last season while Zach Wilson was recovering from a PCL injury.
Now White will get another chance to prove he should be the team’s starting quarterback, maybe for the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday, the Jets benched Wilson for backup White as he will start against the Bears Sunday. White was the Jets backup quarterback after Wilson suffered a meniscus injury during the preseason and missed the first four games of the season. But after Wilson’s return, White was the Jets’ third-string quarterback and was made inactive for the following four games before becoming the backup after the team made Joe Flacco the third-string quarterback.
“Initially excited,” White said about the news of him becoming the Jets starting quarterback. “That’s what everyone wants is a chance to compete and prove themselves.
“More importantly, it’s just a chance to be a good teammate and help the team and worry about the team first. Like I said countless times before when you’re the backup, you have to prepare like the starter.
“The moment when you don’t and you get thrusted in there and things can’t go your way when you’re not prepared. Truthfully, keeping the same process, focusing on the Bears and helping this offense move the ball and score points and win games.”
In his four career games played, all in 2021, White threw for 953 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions. Fans might remember White for his heroics against the Bengals last year as he led the team to a 34-31 upset victory at MetLife Stadium.
In that game, White completed 37 of 45 passes for 405 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was later named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after his performance as White became the first Jets quarterback since Vinny Testaverde in 2000 to throw for 400 or more yards in a game.
White will get the start following a dreadful quarterback performance from Wilson and the Jets’ offense in the 10-3 loss against the Patriots. In that game, Wilson completed just 9 of 22 passes for 77 yards with zero touchdowns. The Jets offense had just a total of 103 yards and two yards after halftime.
After the news was announced to the team Wednesday morning, players at practice appeared to have an extra spring in their step. The Jets offense has struggled a bulk of the season as they’ve been relying on their defense, rushing attack and special teams to win games for them this season.
Currently, Gang Green ranks eighth in the NFL in total defense (310.5) and ninth in points allowed (18.6). Meanwhile, the Jets offense ranks 28th in total offense (311.8) and 22nd in points per game (19.9).
With all the turmoil at the quarterback position, the Jets still find themselves 6-4 and just outside of the playoffs with seven games remaining. With the Jets stellar defensive unit, they’re hoping to get adequate quarterback play from White.
“Football is the ultimate team sport,” White said. “Whenever you’re going through struggle as an offense, whenever you feel like you need to solve the world’s problems, that’s when you can get into a world of trouble.
“It is the ultimate team sport and you need all 11 guys on the field to do their jobs. If you start to play hero ball, that’s when things can go wrong.
“I’m just going to go out there and execute the game plan as coached and talked about throughout the week, do it to the best of my ability and fight like hell for my guys out there.”
White is one of the longest-tenured Jets players on the team. After being selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft by the Cowboys, White was waived by the team and then later signed to the Jets practice squad in 2019.
During his time with the Jets, White was waived, added back to the practice squad, signed to the active roster, and waived again before finally sticking with the club and later playing in 2021.
Despite the fact that Gang Green already had Wilson and veteran Flacco on the roster, the team signed White to a one-year contract with $2.54 million.
“He’s won games with us, he does a great job in practice, he’s done a great job in games for us,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “He’s extremely competent as a quarterback and he’s got the ability to make all the throws on the football field and run the offense in the manner that we need to.
“You know I said it three weeks ago, whatever it was, that he’s going to be next to get an opportunity, and that opportunity is now.”
For the first time in a month, Jets wide receiver Corey Davis was a full participant in practice Wednesday afternoon.
Davis injured his ankle during the Jets’ victory against the Broncos on Oct. 23. While Davis said after the game he felt like he could have reentered the game, he missed the team’s next three games, two against the Patriots and one against the Bills.
The Jets also received more good news as the team opened tackle George Fant’s practice window. That means Fant must be activated off injured reserve within 21 days, or he has to miss the rest of the regular season.
Fant injured his knee in the Jets loss to the Bengals on Sept. 25 and was later placed on injured reserve.
Right guard Nate Herbig was a limited participant as he was active but didn’t play in the loss against the Patriots because of a shin injury. Left tackle Duane Brown (shoulder) and linebacker Quincy Williams (ankle) were also limited.
Both tight end Kenny Yeboah (calf) and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (elbow) missed practice. According to Saleh, Rankins has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game.
Cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner was limited due to a calf injury. But Saleh said he should be good to play against the Bears.