Mike White leads Jets to massive upheaval against Bengals in first NFL start: QB report card
Mike White made his first NFL start on Sunday, but the Jets quarterback looked like a veteran at MetLife Stadium.
The fourth-year quarterback was the catalyst for an offensive wake-up call for the struggling Jets (2-5), who had their most consistent performance on this side of the ball this season in a massive 34 victory. -31 against the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3).
White threw for three touchdowns – including two in one minute in the winning fourth quarter – and 405 yards, becoming the Jets’ first quarterback to throw for at least 400 yards since Vinny Testaverde against the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Eve in 2000. White also caught – yes, caught – the decisive two-point conversion.
It will likely take a miracle for rookie Zach Wilson to lose his starting job upon returning from his PCL injury, but at the very least, White made the decision of Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur on who to start in Thursday’s game. tonight against the Indianapolis Colts an easy one. The Jets, you’ll recall, sent a late-round draft pick to the Eagles for quarterback Joe Flacco, but it was like the Jets’ trade that gutted a draft pick unnecessarily.
The Jets entered the day averaging 3.3 points and 87.5 yards in the first half over six games, with the two brands ranking among the NFL’s worst of any team since 2000, according to ESPN. They finished the half with 14 points and 261 yards. That’s thanks in large part to White, who had 217 passing yards in the first half.
The performance went from outstanding to an all-time high with an electric performance in the fourth quarter where he threw two touchdowns and caught a pass for a two-point conversion on a Philly Special that put the Jets ahead for good.
Prior to making his Jets debut last Sunday, most Jets fans had no idea who White was.
In his first regular season appearance in the NFL last week, White completed 20 of 32 passes for 202 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown in the Jets’ 54-13 loss to the Patriots. He entered the game early in the second quarter when Wilson injured his knee.
Throughout the final three and a half minutes of Sunday and long after he knelt to claim the win, those in the crowd at East Rutherford sang his name.
Here’s a report card for White’s NFL debut:
White finished the game with a 37-by-45 pass line for 405 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 107.9 passer rating.
White is the Jets’ first quarterback to throw more than 300 yards in a game this season and the first to exceed 400 yards in a game since Testaverde.
White wasn’t asked to do much – 39 of his 45 attempted passes were 10 yards or less, according to NFL Next Gen stats – but he was proficient in the role of game manager. There were a few passes thrown with a little too much zip on them, likely caused by some understandable adrenaline for a guy making his first NFL career debut, but White hit his goals for the most part.
The few times he was off target ended up costing him dearly. His two interceptions are due to a bad placement on his passes: the first is a bad pass to Jamison Crowder in the first quarter, where he threw it too hard and too far in front of his receiver. Crowder was only able to flip the ball into the air after stretching, letting it land in Jessie Bates hands for an interception.
The second interception was a bit of the opposite: White threw the ball at Michael Carter before his head turned, bounce it off the ball carrier’s helmet and in the hands of a diver Germaine Pratt.
Rating: B +
The white remained in the pocket for the most part. His only non-stealthy and non-kneeling rush covered two meters.
Class: N / A
Distribute the ball around
In his first practice alone, White completed a pass to five different receivers. At the end of the third quarter, 10 different Jets caught a pass.
Carter was the primary target, catching nine passes for 95 yards, White found Crowder (8 receptions), wide receiver Elijah Moore (6) and running back Ty Johnson (4 catches, one touchdown)
Rating: B +
White didn’t put the ball in jeopardy, usually making the right (and safest) decision.
One of his rare mistakes was taking a sack on the third and the Bengals two-yard line goal early in the fourth quarter. The Jets lost a touchdown and ended up settling for a field goal after White dropped a yard on the sack. Would the Jets have gone for the fourth and the goal if the Whites had thrown the ball to save a yard? Maybe not, but the Whites holding on to the ball for too long didn’t let them make that decision.
He made up for it by leading the Jets on two back-to-back touchdowns after that.
No one expected White to set the world on fire on his first career debut. The low bar of success Whites had to overcome in replacing injured Wilson had to resemble his place on the pitch.
He passed that test with flying colors, leading the Jets to their best offensive performance of the season and leading them to an unlikely victory over one of the NFL’s top teams.
No matter where his NFL career goes, Jets fans will always remember the November afternoon Mike White towered over Joe Burrow and gave them something to smile about during a miserable season.
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Brian Fonseca can be reached at [email protected].