Last year, Jets quarterback Mike White started three games. The lessons he learned in that trio of contests helped prepare him for Sunday’s unexpected (as of last week) debut, against the Bears.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned just from my playing experiences last year was how to handle success because the Cincinnati game, my first start, went so well,” White told PFT by phone after Sunday’s 31-10 triumph over the Bears. “And then Indy, I had the injury and then Buffalo did not go so well. It’s learning from the Buffalo game, mainly it’s just not trying to play ‘hero’ ball. Not trying to win the game with every throw and just playing within the offense with whatever the play call is, whatever the defense is dictating, I have to do with the ball and just let the rest kind of take care of itself.”
White suffered a forearm injury against the Colts on a Thursday night, exiting after throwing only 11 passes. He returned the following weekend, for a 45-17 loss to the Bills, in which he threw 44 passes — and four interceptions.
White’s realization that he needs to not try to win the game with every throw sounds a lot like the lesson the Jets want Zach Wilson to learn as he presses the reset button on his career.
“I think that’s what any young quarterback has to learn and especially in the NFL when guys are so talented and this is the best of the best,” White said. “You can get away with that in college, but in the NFL, not so much.”
White also addressed balancing being a good teammate with being a fierce competitor. He praised Zach Wilson for how he has handled the situation of being sent to the bench.
“I look at Zach as my friend before my teammate, and he’s been awesome,” White said. “I can’t speak highly enough of him and his attitude and how he’s approached this. He’s been 100 perent supportive through and through, there for whatever needs. He’s always there and he’s like, ‘Hey, when I was running this and this kind of happened in the game,’ and just little things like that, and he’s been awesome. He’s attacked it with a great mindset, and that’s just the type of guy he is and the type of teammate he is.”
But White emphasized that Wilson isn’t conceding the job to White.
“I definitely don’t want to make it sound like he isn’t a competitor because he is trying to get back on the field just like any of us,” White said. “Everyone in this locker room is fighting like hell to get to get on the field because that’s why we do this. We play this game to go out on Sundays and be able to perform. He’s doing a great job of balancing both.”
White doesn’t have to worry about striking any balance for now, because his job for the past week has been to get ready to play. He said that his “whirlwind” week included a brief Tuesday phone call from coach Robert Saleh.
“He called me, he said, ‘Hey Mike, how you doing?’ I said, ‘Good.’ He goes, ‘You ready to roll?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir,’ and he goes, ‘All right. You’re rolling this week.’ And I said, ‘All right, Coach. Gotcha,’ and he hung up. I mean, it’s really as short and sweet as that was.”
White said he hasn’t been told he’ll start again this weekend. While it’s hard to imagine him not getting another chance after his performance against the Bears, White recognizes that every NFL season is “17 one-week seasons, so we move on to next week for Minnesota and as long as I’m still out there, I’m gonna fight like hell for my guys and do whatever it takes to keep winning ball games.”
I pressed him a little bit on whether he’s been told he’ll start this weekend. He insisted that he yet to get that message. But it’s clear that he’s hoping for it.
“I won’t mind a phone call on Tuesday,” White said.