BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Title credit: Sean Murphy on Twitter @DinosaurTruther)
(Photo credit: AP Photo: John Minchillo)
The Jets inserted Mike White as their quarterback this week to jumpstart their offense while benching Zach Wilson in the process, and he did just that in the Jets’ 31-10 victory over the hapless Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
White threw three touchdowns and completed 22-of-28 passes for 315 yards, and that was good enough for a 149.3 quarterback rating. It was his second career 300-yard passing game in four career starts. He led the Jets offense to a season-high 466 yards despite the rainy weather, amid frequent chants of “Mike White!” from fans as the game went on
No one needs to even look at the stat sheet to know how well he played; White’s crisp passing game was evident to all who watched the game. It was fun to watch.
It started on the opening drive when White executed a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson, giving the Jets a 7-0 lead.
It was the type of drive that the Jets envisioned when they had him replace an ineffective Wilson, and offered hope right there that this could actually be different. Fans were happy White played just because Wilson was not playing anymore. Hoping was one thing, but seeing was another.
When the Jets defense sputtered in the first quarter and the Bears took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, it was White that provided an answer. He threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson, giving the Jets a 14-10 lead in the second quarter that they would not relinquish. From there, the defense settled down and would not let the Bears score again.
This was the answer the Jets had hoped for from White when the defense struggled to gain traction early on. The defense has been so good that fans now expect them to be perfect every time out. This is where a competent quarterback picks them up. This is where quarterbacks become leaders.
Here’s the White impact: He converted seven third-downs. He distributed to 10 different receivers. He threw for 235 yards in the first half, the most yards thrown by a Jets quarterback since Chad Pennington in 2006. The Jets scored 24 straight after trailing 10-7 in the second quarter. He even got the running game going, which has been a struggle since Breece Hall was out for the season with an ACL.
He was so good that no one complained on that day. Elijah Moore mentioned how much he missed the football when talking about his quarterback’s contributions. Jets head coach Robert Saleh said it best when he talked about his quarterback making the easy look easy.
Who can blame anyone for being happy? White knew when to hit guys when they were open. He was so accurate overall.
This should be a clinic for the banished Zach Wilson on how to get it done as a quarterback.
Regardless of how White played, it was the right move to bench Wilson. The Jets starting quarterback was not in a good place to start this game. The fans were already disgruntled with him, and if he made a mistake right away, fans would pounce on it by booing him. It would have created such negative energy around the stadium that it could have cost the Jets a game.
The Jets started Wilson out of desperation obviously, but they also knew he was the right guy based on the calm and maturity he brings to the huddle. They were aware he had a better feel for the game than the incumbent quarterback.
White’s approach to the game helped him deliver on this day. It’s no wonder why his teammates were happy to rally around him before and during the game.
The beauty of all this will be what he can do for an encore. If the Jets make the playoffs, it’ll be because of him. He has six games to show what he can do.
On Sunday, it won’t be easy on the road in Minneapolis when the Jets play the NFC North leader Minnesota Vikings. Then, they play another road game at Buffalo, which their fans want to avenge as the Bills lost to them several weeks ago at MetLife Stadium.
How he handles this assignment will go a long way in him keeping his quarterback position heading into training camp.
White gives the Jets a better chance to win games and make the playoffs, and that’s why the change was made.
His performance on Sunday asks everyone for more.
This writer can be reached on Twitter: @LeslieMonteiro6
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