Why the Jets are ‘rolling with Mike White’ after Zach Wilson benching, and why it’s the right decision

15 days ago NJ.com

With so much attention on the Jets’ franchise-altering decision to bench Zach Wilson, starting with Sunday’s game against the Bears, the man who will be replacing him almost flew under the radar Wednesday morning when Saleh announced the decision.

“We’re going to roll with Mike White,” Saleh said.

That’s right, less than 13 months after he set the NFL world ablaze for a week by throwing for more than 400 yards in his first career start against the Bengals -- a legendary performance that saw his jersey end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- White is back with a chance to write an even more improbable story: taking the Jets to their first playoff appearance in 11 years.

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Benching Wilson was the right decision by Saleh, even if it was an excruciating one for the franchise just 19 months after they committed to Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick -- playing him would have put Wilson and his teammates in a terrible situation on Sunday against the Bears, where fans would have been literally booing and hissing anytime he made a mistake and his already frustrated locker room could have been pushed to a breaking point.

But Saleh also got it right by picking White as the next man up over Joe Flacco, who had the opportunity to start three games earlier this season and didn’t exactly light it up as the Jets started 1-2.

Flacco struggled at times earlier this season when the Jets’ offensive line was fully intact. Now the o-line is a patchwork whose pass-blocking issues certainly didn’t do Wilson any favors as he tried (and failed) to right the ship in recent weeks. Wilson got sacked four times on Sunday, Flacco might have been sacked 10 times against the Patriots.

White gives the Jets slightly more mobility in the pocket and he also gives them the chance to get a longer look at what ended up being only a glimpse last year.

“We know he’s fully capable,” Saleh said. “He’s started in this League. He’s won games for us, and we just want to give him an opportunity.”

To be more precise, White has won only one game for the Jets, and didn’t get to play much after completing 37-of-45 passes for 405 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions against the Bengals.

White got hurt early in his second start of the season and missed nearly the entire game against the Colts and he was benched after struggling in his third start against the Bills. Last year that felt like a bit of a magic carpet ride, and the idea of him actually being the starter if he kept the good vibes going felt unrealistic.

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But with Wilson clearly facing a questionable future, White enters the stage this time with the real possibility of securing a long-term job.

“For Mike, it’s obviously a great opportunity for him,” Saleh said. “And I know he’ll attack it.”

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Andy Vasquez may be reached at [email protected]


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