Date: 30/11/2022
Author: David Wyatt-Hupton


The life of a backup quarterback is rarely glamorous. For many teams the backup QB is the most popular man in the locker room, until he plays and shows why he was the backup to begin with. He’s often the man who comes in with little notice and is disregarded just as fast, but every now and then the backup shines and that’s exactly what we saw from Mike White on Sunday. 

It’s always important to not get too high based on a limited sample size. The White detractors will point to the 2021 season where his star shined bright but burned out just as quickly. Most won’t stop and consider that the Buffalo game was just the 4th game of his career and the Jets fell so far behind to start the second half, the offense became one-dimensional. If there is one thing you can’t become against the Buffalo defence, it’s one-dimensional. 

But the fact remains that White burst onto the scene throwing for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Bengals before crashing back to earth against Buffalo. The problem for the backup is that you almost need to be perfect to keep your drop, the leash you’re afforded is the shortest of the short. So having put together a bad game film against Buffalo he was forced to wait nearly a year to put things right and put them right he did. 

His game against the Bears was almost flawless. He commanded the offense and constantly made the right choice. The kind of offense the Jets run is predicated on getting the ball into the hands of your receivers and letting them go to work. When you have the likes of Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore, that’s a sensible strategy.

There were two key aspects to White’s game on Sunday that impressed me more than any other. One, his feel in the pocket was noticeable, in particular his TD throw to Elijah Moore and his dump-off to Ty Johnson. If you can feel pressure and slide or climb away from it while keeping your eyes downfield, good things are going to happen. Two, his ability to work through progressions at lightning speed to find the right option. White’s time to throw of 2.38 seconds was the joint 2nd fastest in the NFL this weekend, alongside Tom Brady and trailing only Trevor Lawrence. If you get the ball out quickly, it’s hard to defend and it’s easy to protect as a lineman. 

Now comes the true test. Can Mike White stack up performances? The Chicago Bears are a team transitioning through a rebuild and defensively they leave a lot to be desired, they don’t have a pass-rush and were banged up in the secondary. But if you’re Mike White, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and this weekend he’ll get the chance against a much better Minnesota Vikings team. Defensively the Vikings are susceptible to the pass, but their offense can be explosive which can dictate how the game plays out. 

The Jets for their part are a much better team in 2022, offensively and defensively. Last year the defence was one of the worst units in the league and as mentioned with the Buffalo game, that can prove problematic for the offense. There was also an element of bad fortune for Mike White last year and his eight interceptions. According to PFF, White only threw nine turnover worthy balls and eight of those turned into picks, so an 88.8% conversion rate for the defence. 

Have a look around the league in 2021 and you’ll see how unlucky that is.

Ben Roethlisberger had 36 turnover worthy plays and just 10 picks (27.7%), Jimmy Garoppolo had 30 TWP and 15 picks (50%), Josh Allen had 27 TWP and 15 picks (55.5%), Dak Prescott had 24 TWP and 11 picks (45.8%), you get the picture. Small sample sizes don’t have the opportunity to even out, and that can be used both ways when it comes to Mike White, whether you’re looking at his performances from 2021 or his sole performance from 2022. But, Mike White deserves the opportunity to stake a claim and his first audition couldn’t have gone better.