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Why the Jets Picked Mike White to Start Over Zach Wilson This Week

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh revealed that Mike White is the Jets starting quarterback against the Buffalo Bills this week. Rookie Zach Wilson will remain inactive.

Jeta head coach Robert Saleh backed up his conservative approach with his quarterback situation on Wednesday, naming Mike White as New York's starter for Sunday's matchup with the Bills. 

With White cleared after last week's forearm injury, and rookie Zach Wilson still recuperating from his sprained PCL, this decision isn't a surprise.

"We had a feeling on Monday with Zach's knee that he's not fully ready to go," Saleh told reporters. "Mike got all his strength back, he feels good, no residual effects from Thursday so we're going with Mike."

After White, Joe Flacco will be New York's backup, active against Buffalo. Even if Josh Johnson had a career game last week after White went down with his injury, it's a numbers game to get the journeyman back on the roster with New York's barrage of injuries. 

Plus, Saleh said Flacco is ready to go, spending the last few weeks absorbing this offense since he was acquired before the trade deadline. 

Regarding the Jets' starter, it certainly helps that White has been a revelation, taking advantage of his opportunity since Wilson went down with a knee injury. The backup threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, paving the way to a stunning victory over the Bengals two weeks ago. 

He followed that up with two promising series against the Colts on national television, forced to leave that game in the first half with a nerve contusion, limiting his ability to grip the football.

Wilson, meanwhile, is returning to practice this week. His knee injury is on a two-to-four week timeline, beginning three weeks ago when he went down with the injury against the Patriots in New England. 


Once Wilson is cleared to return to games, that doesn't mean he's guaranteed the starting job. Saleh explained that this is a day-to-day situation. He and the rest of the coaching staff are balancing the importance of Wilson's on-field development with his health and an opportunity for him to learn from the sidelines.

With how well White has been able to lead this offense—same with Johnson—Saleh assured that there's no harm if Wilson needs to watch another game or two before he's back under center, taking mental notes from how another signal-caller is orchestrating this offensive scheme.

"We have the upmost confidence in Zach that when he gets ready to play, and he gets back on the field, he's going to do a phenomenal job. His talent is undeniable," Saleh added. "There's a great amount of growth that can happen whether he's playing or not. Those are facts."

Beyond the numbers, Saleh believes in White wholeheartedly as well. 

What fans have seen these last two weeks, with a backup taking the league by storm, is no fluke, in the coach's eyes. 

"It's not too big for him," Saleh said. "In Indianapolis, first drive we get a first down, move the ball a little bit, punt, go down seven nothing and he goes right down the field to answer with a touchdown. Just to show that same thing with Cincinnati, down double digits, to rally it back. His ability to stay calm, cool and collected in the moment and take it one play at a time is pretty cool for a young guy getting his first and second start."


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