After missing the last two games due to injury, Jets fans received a holiday miracle on Monday afternoon.
Jets quarterback Mike White, who has been dealing with fractured ribs, has been cleared by the team doctors and will start on the road against the Seahawks on Sunday.
White injured his ribs in the Week 14 loss to the Bills. He left that game twice after hits by Ed Oliver and Matt Milano. White tried to get cleared to start the following games against the Lions and Jaguars, but around 10 doctors declined to do so.
Not only that, Jets coach Robert Saleh announced, barring injury, White would remain the starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
“Anytime you get an opportunity in this league to step on the field as a starter, it’s a great opportunity,” Saleh said. “I thought Mike had been doing a great job of moving the offense, sustaining drives, gaining first downs, the offense was running with more efficiency.
“It’s a great opportunity for him, it’s a great opportunity for everyone anytime you get a chance to step on the field. He just needs to take it one day at a time and go from there.”
The Jets backup quarterback against the Seahawks will be veteran Joe Flacco. That means Zach Wilson will be inactive after starting the last two weeks for White.
After starting seven games earlier this season following his return from a preseason meniscus tear, Wilson was inconsistent as the starting quarterback. Wilson threw for 1,279 yards, four touchdowns, and five interceptions in that time.
Wilson was benched in favor of White after the Jets 10-3 loss to the Patriots on Nov. 20. Saleh said he benched Wilson to give him a reset to work on mechanics and take a mental break.
Wilson returned as the starting quarterback in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Lions and Jaguars. Wilson threw for 409 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in that span as the Jets lost both games.
In White’s three starts this season, the Jets are 1-2. However, White has improved the team’s quarterback play as he has been a better decision-maker and more efficient than Wilson, throwing for 952 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 62% of his passes.
In last week’s 19-3 loss to the Jaguars, Wilson was benched in the third quarter for practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler, who was elevated for the game. Wilson finished 9-of-18 passes for 92 yards and an interception. He was also booed the entire night by fans who were upset with the poor performance.
With White pegged as the starter moving forward, Wilson’s season could be over. Also, Wilson’s future with the club is in doubt.
Fox Sports reported on Saturday afternoon that the Jets had lost confidence in Wilson and the team is expected to move on from him after the season.
The Jets selected Wilson in the 2021 NFL Draft just 20 months ago. In between that time, Wilson has suffered injuries, played inconsistently and now been benched multiple times in just his second year in the league.
“That report is all speculation,” Saleh said. “We are not quitting on the young man, we are going to do everything to development him.
“I think he’s still going to be a really good quarterback,” Saleh said. “He just needs time to sit back and continue the development that we were trying to re-kickstart after the New England game.
“I still have him in our future and in our plans.”
Despite a four-game losing streak, the Jets’ postseason aspirations are still alive. Losses by the Dolphins, Patriots, Raiders and Titans gave Gang Green new life.
With two games left in the regular season, the Jets are in ninth place in the AFC as they trail the seventh-seeded Dolphins by a game. If the Jets win their final two games against the Seahawks and the Dolphins and the eighth-seeded Patriots lose one of their final two games, Gang Green would qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Last week after the loss to the Jaguars, Saleh said the playoffs were far-fetched.
“This league is kind of wacky and I think everyone knows that and anything can happen,” Saleh said. “But it doesn’t change what I talked about in regards to what our goal is and what we are trying to accomplish and the playoffs being the furthest thing from our minds in what we gotta get done day in and day out and the process in which we have to go about it.
“The message doesn’t change, this isn’t about the playoffs. Just looking at it, we gotta get back to what we were in the first half of the season. One day at a time, take advantage of the moment and whatever happens, happens.
“The playoffs and all that stuff is cool, but we gotta stay connected to this moment and Seattle and Seattle only.”