As we know, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh just hinted that Mike White could start in Week 10 based on Zach Wilson’s long-term health in his November 8 press conference.
He’s making his way back from a PCL strain in his knee and with White playing well, there’s no reason to rush him back. No matter where you fall on this quarterback controversy, most fans would agree with this decision from the coaching staff.
Buffalo touts the number one ranked defense in the NFL in terms of yards and points allowed. They also rank second in takeaways, forcing 19 turnovers this season. Throwing Wilson back in there on a gimpy knee is a recipe for disaster and if he managed to reinjure the ligament, that would qualify as a code red for this front office.
While Saleh did imply that Wilson is still the starter long-term, he remained steadfast in preaching that they will operate on a “day-to-day” basis. Over the past week, different NFL analysts have chimed in on why the Jets must not lose sight of the future at quarterback.
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NYJ Film Expert Uses Buffalo Model to Back Wilson
We’ve heard people compare Wilson to Josh Allen in the past, due to the off-platform throws and the rare arm strength. Coach Saleh even referenced their Week 10 adversary’s slow start as a rookie in Buffalo after the BYU product struggled earlier this season.
Both signal-callers tend to pair spectacular throws with mind-numbing mistakes, but when the ceiling could be an MVP finalist that takes you to the AFC championship, you live with the roller coaster ride of emotions. Another ultra-talented quarterback that’s going through this right now is Patrick Mahomes, who has also become known as a common player comp for Wilson.
White is the polar opposite — a calculated pocket passer not known for taking risks. What he lacks in arm strength and mobility, he makes up for with intelligence and poise. Can these types of QBs succeed in the right system? Absolutely, but unicorns like Wilson are touted as generational talents for a reason.
Honestly, this fanbase isn’t used to having a player with that type of potential. Even Sam Darnold didn’t display these types of eye-opening abilities. That’s why co-owner of Jets X-Factor and respected film expert Michael Nania called upon recent NFL history to make this point.
He tweeted: “In 2018 the Bills were 2-7. Matt Barkley makes his first start and kills the Jets with 41 [points] & a 117 rating. Josh Allen missed his 4th straight game. BUF chose a returning Allen over Barkley next week. He finished 3-3 and looked much improved. These headlines ruled the week; JASON WOLF: BILLS MUST START MATT BARKLEY VS. JAGUARS, EVEN IF JOSH ALLEN IS HEALTHY.”
The AFC East rival was in a situation that is a near-carbon copy of Gang Green’s. That’s why this game is so great, history repeats itself. Sure, that could mean that White becomes the next Tom Brady but the more likely fantasy is that Wilson eventually rises to the expectations of his draft status.
Nania continued: “Interesting to think about where Allen and the Bills might be if Buffalo overreacted to 1 good game by a backup and didn’t let Allen build confidence heading into [year] 2 with an improved finish to his rookie year. Personally, I think the Jets should make the same decision they did.”
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NFL Analysts Support Nania
In an ESPN segment of “Get Up!,” host Mike Greenberg asked a panel of NFL analysts whether or not the Jets should roll with White until he falters and the answer was a resounding no.
The group included ex-NFL stars Ryan Clark, Rob Ninkovich and Sam Acho, as well as NFL insider Dan Graziano. For the diehard White fans out there, collect these receipts.
Clark: “Zach Wilson [should start], Greeny why are you all so ready to flip-flop? How is Mike White all of a sudden a guy you’re putting into the Jets Hall of Fame? You’re now talking about him like he’s the best and most talented quarterback you’ve had since Joe Willie Namath… Maybe [the Jets] should coach Zach Wilson kind of the way [they] coached Mike White. Maybe the team should rally around Zach Wilson the way they rallied around Mike White. Or maybe the team just won one football game because they still played terrible last night.”
Acho: “You can’t listen to fans… when it comes to winning football games you need to go with the number two pick.”
Ninkovich: “They’re gonna go with the first-round pick, you can’t go with the backup. Sometimes the backup has nothing to lose, like oh I’m going to go out here, no expectations and throw the football around and he went out [there] and had a day.”
Graziano: “The season for the Jets has to be about developing Zach Wilson, honestly more than it even is about winning games.”
In a segment of “Brother From Another” that I included above, guest Chris Simms — who is a known Wilson supporter — went on a tirade over White’s 400-yard performance calling White fever the “dumbest crap ever from the Jets fans.” Feel free to watch the entire clip but I wanted to highlight one quote from the former backup QB that stood out.
Simms voiced: “What happens in these situations is, ‘oh no Mike White’s starting’ and the coaches go we got to help him, we got to figure out a lot of creative ways to get him and make him look good, and let’s [use] this play and this play and this play and this play because he’s not as good as Zach Wilson, so we got to help him. And my thing is, why the ‘F’ don’t you do that for your starting quarterback?”
The playcalling did appear to change the moment White took over the offense, just watch the film and you’ll see that. The degree of difficulty on wide receiver routes decreased and the usage of trick plays increased, no matter what Mike LaFleur and Saleh tell you in press conferences. Why didn’t they make those adjustments under Wilson?
The Jets offensive coordinator also admitted recently that he “always wanted to be up there” calling plays from the booth, which he began doing against the Cincinnati Bengals. Aside from LaFleur looking more comfortable the past couple of weeks, the offensive line and receiving core have played some of their best football as they continue to gel together.
The overarching point is simple. Things are finally coming together on offense and this coaching staff would be doing the franchise and Wilson a disservice if they did not allow him to reap the rewards of the recent adjustments.
Who knows, if White and Josh Johnson can work wonders against two tough defenses after the recent improvements, the rookie might be able to blow the roof off a team.
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