Robert Saleh: Mike White's huge game hasn't altered Jets' QB plan

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, November 28, 2022

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike White delivered one of the best passing days in New York Jets history on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to alter the team's plan at quarterback.

Coach Robert Saleh reiterated Monday that he still hopes to play demoted starter Zach Wilson, setting the stage for a weekly quarterback soap opera as the Jets (7-4) bid to end their 11-year playoff drought.

"It's exactly what I talked about last week in my press conference," Saleh said. "It's a week-to-week deal. The full intent is to get Zach ready to play football again. I'll make that decision when I'm ready. While we're going through this process, it's Mike White's opportunity to take advantage of every last play he gets.

"I'm going to leave it at that. We're going to figure it out as we go."

The Jets called Wilson's benching a "reset," a chance to sharpen his fundamentals as the scout-team quarterback in practice. The 2021 No. 2 overall pick was inactive in Sunday's 31-10 win over the Chicago Bears, watching from the sideline as White -- in his season debut -- passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 22-for-28 efficiency.

The home fans chanted his name and teammates sang his praises, but the organization isn't ready to cast aside Wilson -- at least not publicly. Saleh declined to speculate on what it would take for White to secure the position.

"Mike's got an opportunity to stack another great day up this week," Saleh said. "When we feel like Zach is ready to roll, he's going to roll."

The Jets travel to the face the Minnesota Vikings (9-2), who rank 20th in scoring defense and 30th in total yards allowed. With White at quarterback, the Jets enjoyed their most prolific offensive day in years, amassing 466 total yards. White finished with a 149.3 passer rating, the highest by a Jets quarterback since Geno Smith's perfect 158.3 in 2014.

Saleh said White delivered the ball quickly and made subtle movements in the pocket to avoid pressure. He did "a really, really good job," Saleh said.

Players praised White's poise, how he was able to step into a pressure situation without flinching. It had been a full calendar year since his last regular-season appearance. He galvanized a team that was reeling from a last-second loss to the New England Patriots.

"He was a smooth operator," running back Ty Johnson said. "He was just doing Mike White things, you know what I'm saying?"

The Jets might face the Vikings this Sunday with a new look in the backfield.

Running back Michael Carter (low-ankle sprain) is a question mark as the Jets prepare for the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. He left Sunday's game and didn't return; he's considered day-to-day. They lost top back Breece Hall to a season-ending knee injury in Week 7, leaving Johnson, James Robinson and rookie Zonovan Knight available if Carter can't play.

Robinson, acquired in a recent trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, was a healthy scratch against the Bears. He was replaced by Knight, who rushed for 69 yards -- the most by a Jets player in his debut since Matt Snell's 82 yards in 1964.

Knight and Johnson rushed for a combined 131 yards, with Johnson scoring on a 32-yard run.

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