Jets head coach Robert Saleh had to bench Zach Wilson after his terrible performance versus the New England Patriots two Sundays ago. The second-year quarterback was just 9-22 for 77 yards passing in a crushing 10-3 loss in which the Jets gave up an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown to rookie Marcus Jones with five seconds remaining.
Afterwards, Wilson took no accountability in his postgame press conference that reportedly angered many of his teammates. Saleh’s move to backup Mike White turned out to be just what the Jets needed. Facing the Chicago Bears at home at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, White energized both the offense in heavy rain, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-10 win.
White’s teammates slapped him on his helmet, shoulder pads and gave him celebratory dap all afternoon. His production and the victory boosted the Jets’ spirits and gave the team hope, even if White’s big day came against a beat-up Bears secondary, that the offense could give them enough points to support a Super Bowl caliber defense in the weeks ahead.
The Jets are 7-4 and behind the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, both 8-3, in the AFC East division. They are the No. 7 seed overall in the AFC, which would make them a wildcard team if the season ended today. But it doesn’t and the Jets still have six more games to play in a tough remaining schedule starting with the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings on the road this Sunday.
White took the Jets down the field on a nine-play, 75-yard drive to open the game against the Bears, throwing an eight-yard TD pass to rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson. The Jets were up 17-10 at halftime then outscored the Bears 14-0 in the third quarter. The defense shut out the 3-9 Bears in the second half, who were playing without their electric second-year quarterback Justin Fields, who separated his shoulder on Nov. 20 in a 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
“I thought today was a complete team win,” said White. “The defense dominated and flew around the field and made plays. We ran well when we needed to. The guys were running hard. I felt like it’s a complete team win.”
Saleh was expectedly satisfied with how White guided the offense.
“He did a great job,” Saleh said. “We just wanted him to play within himself and play efficiently, especially in the [bad weather]. He made it look easy. I thought he did a really good job with that.”
White, 27, was first drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round after playing college ball at South Florida and Western Kentucky. He has been on the Jets roster since 2019, including being on the practice squad. White made his first career start against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8 last season filling in for an injured Wilson, passing for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.