New York Jets Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has still not recovered from his knee injury, but that doesn’t mean we get another week of the Mike White experience. The Jets instead will be going with a face from their recent past against the Miami Dolphins — 36-year-old Joe Flacco. They traded a sixth round pick (that can turn into a fifth) to the Eagles to reacquire their 2020 backup quarterback following Wilson’s injury.
White was the No. 2 sports star in New York just last week, trailing only the still-over-.500 Knicks. The journeyman backup turned heads by becoming the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400-plus yards in his first start as the Jets beat Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8. White picked up where he left off a few days later against the Colts on Thursday Night Football, beginning the game 7-11 for 95 yards and a touchdown, but his night ended with a forearm injury on the scoring pass. It appears that his season has ended following his Week 10, five-interception performance against the Buffalo Bills.
Jets coach Robert Saleh told the media Tuesday that he still has faith in White, and also the quarterback deserved better than the praise that was heaped on him for nearly three weeks only to be immediately cast aside by New York after one rough day against a great defense. On Wednesday, following Flacco being named the starter, Saleh defended his prior comments, saying that it was directed at the outside criticisms, and that White has earned a place on the team.
Bottom line, the Jets-Dolphins Sunday matchup is far less interesting without White on the field. Seeing how he responds after a complete dud of a performance is the only reason to watch that game unless you’re invested in Tua Tagovailoa’s return from another injury.
Now, for those who want to put their conspiracy hat on, maybe White’s five interceptions against the Bills is the perfect excuse to get him out of the picture and leave no doubt on Wilson — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft — as the Jets’ starter upon his return from injury. Wilson has not been great this season, so of course a career-backup having a historic first start can begin a quarterback controversy, especially with this week being the end of the two-four weeks he was expected to be inactive. Those five picks allow the Jets to move Flacco in for a game, and White likely out to the practice squad, once Wilson returns.
Whatever the reasoning for the Jets going with Flacco — per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s that the Jets feel Flacco’s experience make him the best option against a “complex” Dolphins defense that Football Outsiders ranked 16th in DVOA — that appears to be all for White in 2021. It was fun while it lasted. It resulted in one of the great moments in gambling history and made the Jets national news for something besides incompetence for the first time in a while.
The Jets and their fans had high hopes for the 2021 season. Not so high as to expect a playoff berth, but they did want to see a promising rookie quarterback look unquestionably like the future leader of the franchise. Instead, they witnessed a three-week Cinderella story pumpkined by the Buffalo Bills.
We don’t know yet what Wilson’s future holds. However, we do know that the Mike White experience was a fun ride for three weeks that we will always remember. After the Jets’ last five seasons, that’s enough to make 2021 a net positive.