Mike White makes the Jets fun so enjoy the ride while it lasts
The main event in the New York football season on Sunday as the Jets go up against the Bills is suddenly a quarterback who is one of two things:
He’s either a flash-in-the-plan who stepped up and out of the chorus and threw for 400 yards one day against the Bengals. Or he is going to do something big against the Bills and continue trying to be one of the great football stories we’ve ever had around here.
But one thing is certain about this game between the Jets and Bills on Sunday: We’re going to watch a guy, Mike White, whom only the Jets knew was in town at the start of the season.
White really only has been that one startling performance against the Bengals, when the Bengals were starting to look like one of the best teams in the AFC. Then he basically got that one scoring drive against the Colts on Thursday Night Football before he got hurt.
Zach Wilson was supposed to be the kid to watch this season for the Jets. Only for now, and for as long as this lasts — and it may not even last through the Bills game — Mike White is the player to watch for the Jets. There’s a reason for that. In a season when so much was already starting to make Jets fans as miserable as they’ve always been, White has done the opposite of that. His story, and it has been a real short story to here, has just been pure fun.
He started out in South Florida and then ended up at Western Kentucky and the Cowboys took him in the fifth round of the draft four years ago and it came down to him and Cooper Rush to back up Dak Prescott in Jones World. Rush beat him out in 2019. White ended up with the Jets. Here he is.
And one full game into this as the Jets starter, here is what the kid said the other day, and just became even more fun in the process, and added more sizzle to the whole thing:
“I couldn’t tell you. That’s definitely the scouting departments across the league and what their interpretation of me is. I have 100% confidence in myself. So if you ask me, I should have been a first overall pick. But that’s neither here nor there. That’s four years ago. I try to get my mind off that and be in the here and now and execute what my job is right now.”
You know what the job is for White? To keep the job, if he can.
There was the Jets’ season before Wilson got hurt, and there is the season that seemed to start, out of nowhere, when White stepped in for Wilson. Put it another way: Since White did get his shot, his record as a starting quarterback is 1-1. And the fact of things is that when he left the Colts game, the score was 7-7. Maybe the way the Jets’ defense played that night, they would have ended up losing anyway, and big. But there is no way of knowing that White wouldn’t have kept completing passes if he’d stayed on the field.
All that we know about him, in less than five quarters of work as a starter, is that he has made the throws he wants to make. And moved the ball better than any Jets quarterback has in a long time. And in the NFL, and seeing the body of work we saw from Sam Darnold and what we’ve seen from Wilson around his one breakout game against the Titans, that ain’t nothing.
This isn’t Vinny Testaverde stepping in for Glenn Foley in 1998 after Foley got hurt, and having the best season at quarterback that anybody had had since Joe Namath. Vinny ended up with 29 touchdown passes against seven interceptions and the Jets ended up in the AFC championship game against the Broncos in Denver. He was as valuable a player as there was in the league that season. But he was a former Heisman Trophy winner and he’d had a long NFL life by then. He was 35 years old and people knew who he was. Hardly anybody knew about Mike White when he got the ball against the Bengals.
Now we will see what he can do against a Buffalo team spoiling for a rock fight after the Bills lost 9-6 to the Jacksonville Urban Meyers last Sunday, a result perhaps even more shocking than the Jets beating the Bengals. The Bills were supposed to run away from the AFC East this season. Not so much right now, with them a half-game better than the New England Patriots.
For now Zach Wilson watches. White plays. It is that way for one more Sunday, or not. There is all this speculation, because the Jets did take Wilson with the second pick in the draft, about what the drama around here will be like over there in Florham Park if White continues to play well. And how well he will have to continue to play to continue getting starts.
But guess what? Who cares right now? That will all sort itself out, starting with the Bills game. For now, the Jets should simply enjoy the season that sprung up, literally, out of nowhere when White started completing all those passes against the Bengals and refused to stop, and gave Jets’ fans pure and unexpected fun, at a point in the season when the Bengals were coming off a huge win against the Ravens in Baltimore.
It is not White’s job to worry about the Jets taking Wilson with a No. 2 pick not so terribly long after taking Darnold with a No. 3. It is White’s job to try to keep the job, while Jets fans sit back and watch to see if he can. Remember again when White came along, after that 54-13 beatdown from the Patriots. At that point in the season things looked as bleak for the Robert Saleh Jets as they did for Adam Gase’s Jets after the Raiders beat them with that Hail Mary pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs less than one year ago. The Jets looked like that much of a joke team. Then White completed 37-of-45 for 405 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals.
The Jets were the talk of the league that day. But in a good way. So was White. Can he keep doing it? We’re about to find out. We hear all the time about Same Old Jets. Not today. The Jets have never had a quarterback story quite like this. White has made them fun again, for as long as this does last. Who isn’t rooting for this kid to keep it going? Other than maybe the second pick in the last NFL draft.
COHEN’S STAR SEARCH SURE IS ENTERTAINING, KAREEM SLAMS AARON ON VAX ISSUE & ONE MORE SHOT FOR ODELL …
Wait, let me see if I have this straight:
Steve Cohen might hire a guy to be his new general manager because the guy didn’t make partner at his law firm?
That’s the end of the star search?
This story just keeps getting better and better.
But the way things have been going, maybe Adam Cromie is in play because at least he took the Mets’ phone call.
Scott Boras, bless his huckstering heart, referred to Michael Conforto as a “beast” of the NL East the other day.
Imagine what kind of language Boras might have used if Conforto had hit more than .232.
It’s a little early in the proceedings for Coach Thibodeau to already be calling BS on his Knicks, right?
There is no better story in sports right now than Steph Curry and the Warriors being back in play like this.
I hope Rick Pitino’s Iona team is great.
If you haven’t yet read Kareem Adbul-Jabbar’s brilliant piece about Aaron Rodgers at substack.com, you ought to, because it is the best column anybody anywhere wrote about Aaron Rodgers and his position on vaccines.
And included this thought from Kareem:
“Instead of consulting immunologists, (Rodgers) consulted anti-vaxxer and podcast host Joe Rogan, who also contracted the virus. If he ever requires open-heart surgery will he hand the scalpel to romance writers because they know about matters of the heart?”
Justin Fields needs a better coach than he’s got in Chicago, and needs better players around him.
But he is going to be a star in pro football, for a long time.
Mike White threw for 95 yards against the Colts before he got hurt.
In an entire game against the Raiders last Sunday, Daniel Jones threw for 110 yards.
If I’d played the way Odell Beckham Jr. did in that playoff game against the Packers in Lambeau, I would have found somewhere warm to play, too.
Now Beckham gets to prove in L.A., once and for all, in what ought to be a dream situation for him, that he was more than those flashy one-handed catches he used to make.
It is worth remembering, everybody continues to dismiss Cincinnati’s chances of making the tournament in college football, that the Bearcats went toe-to-toe with Georgia in the Peach Bowl last year before losing on a 53-yard field goal.
There continue to be so many things to love about “The Morning Show,” starting with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, of course.
But week in and week out, Billy Crudup continues to give a dazzling performance as the president of the network.
When I heard that Steve Bannon had been indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress my first thought was, only two?
They haven’t announced it yet, but Dick Wolf and NBC already has this pilot ready to go for No. 12 of the Packers:
“Green Bay Med.”
Honk if the Mets have offered you their GM job.
Happy birthday this week to my mom, Lee Lupica.
You always hear that the center has to hold in this world.
In the world of our family, that’s my mom.
I’d tell you which birthday, but I’m still promising her that I’ll stay out of trouble.