Is Mike White a Boom or Bust?

Mike White stepped onto the scene in a big way by leading the Jets past the Bengals with a historic first start, potentially even challenging Zach Wilson for the starting job, but how should fans look at him now after a blowout against the Bills?


Two full starts in, White has had an uneven start to his NFL career. (Courtesy of Twitter)

It seemed like the New York Jets had found a promising young quarterback … and it wasn’t their second overall pick. With rookie quarterback Zach Wilson sidelined due to a knee injury, the Jets have been forced to turn to backup QB Mike White. In his first career start two weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals, White led the Jets to an incredible win with 405 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Bengals have proved to be a formidable AFC presence this season, making the Jets fourth quarter comeback win even more amazing. 

While it was impressive enough to lead the 1–5 Jets to victory, White’s individual performance ranks as one of the best ever. White and now current Carolina Panther Cam Newton are the only quarterbacks since 1950 to throw for 400 yards or more in their first start. White’s showing made waves in the league, with some wondering if Wilson would still have the starting job when he recovered. After seeing White play his second full game this week, it appears this speculation may have been premature.

In true Jets’ fashion, the situation only got weirder after Thursday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. White had an exciting start, tying up the game in the first quarter with a 19 yard touchdown pass to Elijah Moore. Unfortunately, White spent the rest of the game on the sideline after a hand injury left him unable to properly grip the football. Third string quarterback Josh Johnson had a decent game, keeping the Jets close. He threw for a career-high 317 yards and three touchdowns, although admittedly two of those touchdowns were during garbage time. 

Even so, this is another surprising performance from a Jets backup quarterback. Johnson has bounced around the league, playing for 10 different teams since 2008. It is safe to say that Johnson will not be named the new starter, but he showed that the Jets have more depth than perhaps was originally thought.

The Jets experienced a reality check Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills showed no mercy in their trip to MetLife Stadium, scoring six touchdowns amounting to a 45–17 final. The Bills bounced back from their surprising upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a game in which they were unable to score any touchdowns. 

Earlier in the week, Mike White told reporters that he felt he should have been taken number one overall in the 2018 draft. He did not do much to help his case this week, throwing for 251 yards and zero touchdowns. White tacked on four interceptions to make this an abysmal performance. It may be unfair to judge his performance this week so harshly, as the Bills’ loss to the Jaguars last week was almost certainly a fluke, but he struggled regardless.

Michael Carter rushed for a touchdown, with the Jets’ only score through the air coming late in the fourth quarter when veteran quarterback Joe Flacco entered the game. Normally, there would be no shame in losing to a powerhouse team such as the Bills. But after watching the Jaguars take them down, it was reasonable to think the Jets at least had a chance this week. 

It was fun while it lasted, but the dream that White could lead the Jets to a new era seems to be fading. White has proven that he can handle the pressure of starting an NFL game, but it remains to be seen whether he can duplicate the results of his first start. Further, will he be able to do so before Zach Wilson has a chance to retake the starting job?