Jets Experts Grade Joe Douglas, Debate Zach Wilson vs. Mike White

Mike White, Zach Wilson

Getty New York Jets quarterbacks Mike White (#5) and Zach Wilson (#2) warm up together at training camp on July 30, 2021.

As we approach Week 10 the New York Jets have a very interesting situation to figure out. Who will lead the franchise at quarterback against the Buffalo Bills?

Our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller share their thoughts on the “QB controversy” in New York, as well as grades for Joe Douglas after the deadline and positives from another miserable defeat in Week 9. Before reading on, here are our most recent Heavy on Jets roundtable discussions.

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Solving the Quarterback Controversy

1. Two-part question. Who should start for the Jets at quarterback long-term, Zach Wilson or Mike White?

Boy Green:

The answer to this question, whether it is short or long term is the same, it’s Wilson. White did what he was supposed to do, he stepped in and helped the team win a football game.

Wilson will begin practicing this week for the first time since suffering his PCL strain against the New England Patriots and if he’s ready to go, he should be the starter. I don’t care if Buffalo is perceived to be a tough opponent, this is the NFL, you can’t hide anyone anywhere. If he’s the real deal franchise quarterback, you throw him out there.


Long-term my answer is also the number two overall pick out of BYU. I feel this is the obvious take and the only take, but then again I’ve also witnessed many Jets fans discard the generational prospect over the past two weeks just five and a half games into his career. To me, that is absolutely insane.

You can cite poise, quicker reads or experience, whatever you want. I see Wilson as the better quarterback plain and simple. One of these two players has a ceiling of MVP, the other is a game manager with a skill set that the league will catch up to sooner rather than later. I’m happy for the “legendary” Mike bleeping White, 100%, but this isn’t a Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson situation. This is a backup-level talent that took advantage of some soft coverage from Cincinnati — and Indy to some extent — with 3.7 air yards per pass during his 400-yard performance.

It’s just not sustainable.

2. Who should start for the Jets at quarterback in Week 10, Wilson or White?

Boy Green:

I jumped the gun a bit by blowing my load on this in the first question, but let me dive a bit deeper into this. White has played in three games (partial versus the Patriots, full game versus Cincinnati, and then partial versus Indianapolis) and he has looked like he belongs in those games, but we only had one spectacular showing.

There’s no feasible explanation that can rationalize putting White in over Wilson outside of health. You don’t bench your rookie quarterback because a backup had one good game.


This is where I disagree with the Wilson crowd. Initially, it was clear that the Jets front office did not trust White whatsoever — which should be somewhat telling of his long-term prospects. Douglas traded for Joe Flacco immediately in an insurance move based on fear. In the end, it blew up in the general manager’s face and now the former Super Bowl MVP (who stated boldly that he wanted to play) is stuck holding clipboard number two, as the honorary backup to the backup.

The reason I bring this up is that it also felt like they were rushing Wilson back too soon. I don’t think you have to start Wilson in Week 10 with some fans clamoring for White anyway. It’s not because Buffalo’s defense is first in the NFL in both points and yards against, it’s because the backup has played well and there’s too much invested in your starter’s knee to risk re-injury.

I say start White for one more game but no matter the result, bring your franchise QB back in Week 11.

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Week 9 Positives & an Evaluation on Joe Douglas

3. Give me your biggest Jets’ silver lining either on or off the field in Week 9.

Boy Green:

How can it not be the historic rise of the Jets offense over the last two weeks? I wrote about it over the weekend and the turnaround is remarkable under any circumstance, let alone when you consider backups have been thrust into the starting lineup.

Mike LaFleur is getting more confident as a play-caller and that has made him loosen up a bit, calling more aggressive and creative plays offensively. If he has been able to do this with backups, he is going to absolutely be a man of his word that this is an offense other teams aren’t going to want to play when Wilson returns.


Love that LaFleur’s stock is rising and I hope we all get to see the entire offense come together behind Wilson’s one-of-a-kind ability. That’s not my silver lining, however, because we have not truly seen it yet in my opinion. The adjustment of the past couple of weeks has played to the strengths of White and Josh Johnson but I still think this offense can do so much more.

My silver lining on the field will be Elijah Moore. I know Paul wrote a feature about him after Week 9 but I’ll reiterate that the superstar of the summer has finally begun showing his stuff at the NFL level. The second-round pick is as dynamic as they come and I still see a ton of Antonio Brown in him. With Jets WR1 Corey Davis sidelined, Moore has stepped up in a huge way and that’s exactly what you want to see from the rookie.

There’s also been a positive off the field, and that’s the franchise’s current draft positions. After upsets by the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants, plus another loss from the Carolina Panthers, Gang Green currently holds the fourth and ninth overall picks in 2022 and the 38th and 46th pick in the second round.

4. Now that the NFL trade deadline has passed, how would you grade Joe Douglas’ performance in 2021 based on the deals he made and the ones he didn’t?

Boy Green:

There’s so much that has happened so I’ll try to highlight some things I loved and some things I hated:
  • Sam Darnold trade. Did he really get three draft picks for this guy? I always loved the person — he carried himself well — but as a quarterback he just wasn’t consistent enough and turned the ball over far too much for my liking.
  • Chris Herndon trade. I always thought highly of the former Miami product and was his biggest fan, but I can’t deny the return on investment getting back a fourth-rounder for an often injured and disappointing draft pick.
  •  I hate that they refused to draft or sign a capable center this offseason which would’ve moved Connor McGovern to right guard and killed two birds with one stone. That stubbornness forced us to endure Greg Van Roten as the starting right guard on this Jets team and he has been incredibly underwhelming.
  • I hate that they didn’t find a way to figure out this Marcus Maye ordeal. They kept him on the team and ended up losing him to a season-ending injury on Thursday Night Football. If they traded him for anything at the deadline, especially considering his pending free-agent status, they would have been better served.


I’m just going to focus on the deadline moves in this evaluation. If I was going to give a letter grade for each decision, it would look something like this.
  • Flacco deal: F. I said it right from the start, I hated everything about this trade that quite frankly reeked of desperation. Douglas let his former mentor Howie Roseman take him to school one last time, what a waste of a draft pick.
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif for Daniel Brown: A+. To quote Dumb & Dumber, “just when I thought you couldn’t get any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!” This is the Douglas I know and love. The GM acquired a starting caliber right guard and didn’t sacrifice any draft capital, well done.
  • Reluctance to sell veterans like Jamison Crowder and Maye: D. I know a contingent of fans felt this was the correct call but if anything, Week 9 was proof of why the Green & White had to deal these expiring contracts. Maye was lost for the season and now he’s a major question mark that will likely hit the open market. Crowder was unspectacular while being outshined by Moore and Keelan Cole. Both of these vets should be extra draft capital right now.
  • Overall: C-. While the ‘LDT’ trade saved this from being a total disaster, it was still a sub-par deadline for Douglas. The reason I preferred picks over Maye and Crowder was that it gave the Jets extra options to work with. For that same reason, I never would have sacrificed a pick for Flacco, no matter how long Wilson was out. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all your draft capital in the conventional sense. You can use later picks to trade up for a player you want, or you can trade a haul of picks for a superstar — like the Bills did when they acquired WR Stefon Diggs. More picks equal more options.

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Will the Jets Make Another Stand at MetLife?

5. The Jets have been a totally different team at home this season with two upset victories, do you think that continues against the Bills and Dolphins in Week 10 & 11?

Boy Green:

Well, I certainly hope so as the great Boy Green speaking in third person will be in attendance on Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium for the first time in several years. Also, look at the recent level of play for the Bills, they have been completely underwhelming against the Jaguars and Dolphins, they’re gettable but it won’t be easy.

The Miami Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the NFL. They have certainly been disappointing so far in 2021 and this could be an even better get-right game for this Jets team. To me, the commonality in both of these contests is the terrible play of each of their respective offensive lines. If the Jets defensive line is as great as head coach Robert Saleh says it is, then they need to step up in a major way over the next two weeks. It’s put up or shut up time!


The facts are undeniable, this team operates like Jekyll and Hyde depending on the location and they love playing in front of our famously raucous fanbase — and I mean that in the most endearing way possible.

If we could beat Tennessee and Cincinnati at MetLife, I have no doubt that we can beat Miami. The Bills should offer more of a challenge but as Boy Green mentioned, their offensive line has been putrid. Josh Allen was running for his life all game against the Jaguars… the JAGUARS for Pete’s sake.

Anything can happen in the NFL and I believe the Jets could easily win two straight behind either quarterback.

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