The biggest difference between Zach Wilson and Mike White

The Jets enjoyed a rare laugher on Sunday, blowing the Bears out 31-10 at MetLife Stadium to improve to 7-4 this season. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:

1. Where should we start? Let’s see … how about the performance of Mike White. That might be worth talking about. White was nearly flawless in this game and the Jets offense looked better than it has all season. White was decisive and got the ball out of his hands quickly. He made some nice throws into tight windows. He looked in total control and galvanized the team.

The biggest difference between White and Zach Wilson is how quickly White can read the defense and get rid of the ball. White’s average time to throw on Sunday was 2.38 seconds. Wilson’s average this season is 3.09 seconds. So, White is getting rid of the ball almost a full second faster than Wilson.

There is a lot of discussion now about whether Wilson will play again this season or ever for the Jets. I don’t think now is the time to worry about that. Live in the moment. White is playing well. The Jets will ride this for as long as they can. If White falters and the Jets start losing games, then Wilson could return. As for the future beyond this season, there will be plenty of time to worry about that when the season is over.

Mike White attempts a pass for the Jets against the Bears on Nov. 27, 2022. Robert Sabo/NY Post

It is silly to make proclamations about whether Wilson will play again. Remember 2012? Mark Sanchez was benched for Greg McElroy and it appeared Sanchez would never play again for the Jets. McElroy suffered a concussion in his first start and Sanchez was back under center a week later.

Things happen.

I had a few other thoughts on White after his 315-yard, three-touchdown performance. This was a very bad Bears defense so while White played well, let’s not put him in Canton just yet. The Bears traded away two of their best defensive players last month in Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. They were missing two starters in the secondary to begin Sunday’s game. Then, safety Eddie Jackson, probably their best remaining defensive player, left the game in the second quarter with an injury. That set up nicely for a big day from White.

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The Vikings, who the Jets play next, have the worst pass defense in the NFL, so this may not be the best test for him either. But that game in Buffalo in two weeks feels like a big one.

A lot has been made of White’s popularity with his teammates in contrast to Wilson. I don’t think that is totally fair to Wilson, who is 23 years old and still figuring things out. But there is no denying White has charisma. The postgame scene with teammates mobbing him during his postgame interview reminded me of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was loved by the 2015 Jets. After a game in Dallas, Nick Mangold snuck up on Fitzpatrick during an interview in a memorable scene. White definitely feels like a leader.

Zach Wilson before the Jets game against the Bears. Bill Kostroun/NY Post

2. One of the tasks beat writers have every offseason is trying to get the management of a team to set expectations for the season. That leads to a lot of “is this a playoff team?” questions and others that usually don’t bear any fruit.

During the owners meetings in March in Florida, we were standing outside the posh hotel the meetings were held at on a patio chatting with general manager Joe Douglas. The first topic of conversation that day was the failed bid to trade for Tyreek Hill. Eventually, though, the topic of expectations came up.

This is from the transcript on March 29:

Brian Costello, New York Post: On if he thinks the team should be playing meaningful games in December if he gets the draft right…

“Absolutely, we need to be playing meaningful games in December. I think with where we were and a couple of the moves we made recently; we expect to be playing in a lot more close games.”

It was not a playoff guarantee but it was a step forward from 2021 when the expectations were just about developing young players. Now, the calendar turns to December. The Jets next game is on Dec. 4 and it is very meaningful. The Jets are in the thick of the playoff chase for the first time in seven years. It should be a fun final six weeks of the season with everyone watching playoff position instead of the NFL Draft order.

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Douglas talked about December in March. Now, it’s here.

3. The Jets defense has had some luck this season in getting to see backup quarterbacks. Trevor Siemian was the latest on Sunday. I have been one to point it out and I think it is a fair point. It is also fair to say the Jets were due some luck after years of being on the other side of this.

When you take a closer look at the games the Jets have played backup quarterbacks, though, I think there is only one where you can say it made a huge difference – the win over the Dolphins. Miami is undefeated in games that Tua Tagovailoa starts and finishes. The Jets knocked Teddy Bridgewater out on the first play that day and saw third-stringer Skylar Thompson. That would have been a much different game with Tagovailoa in there.

The others? I’m not sure the backup made much of a difference.

Jacoby Brissett is not as good as Deshaun Watson, but Watson is going to need time to shake off the rust after nearly two years off. We’ll see how he plays. I also think that game was so whacky with how it ended that the quarterback play by Brissett was not a big factor.

The Steelers switched from Mitch Trubisky to Kenny Pickett at halftime of their game. There is not much of a difference in those quarterbacks.

It is pretty clear Russell Wilson is not a difference maker for the Broncos. Their offense stinks with or without him.

Siemian is not anywhere near as good a runner as Justin Fields and maybe Fields could have made a difference for the Bears with his legs. But the Bears defense is so bad, I don’t think it would have mattered.

4. The Jets have not been on “Sunday Night Football” since November of 2011 when they lost to the Patriots at MetLife. That streak could be broken if their game against the Bills on Dec. 11 is flexed into the Sunday night slot. There is a good chance it could happen.


At the moment, the Sunday Night game is Chiefs-Broncos that week. You have to think NBC wants out of that game. The other possibilities to be moved into the primetime slot are: Eagles-Giants, Dolphins-Chargers and Buccaneers-49ers.

A decision would be made in the next few days, so we’ll know soon if the NFL and NBC believe the Jets are ready for primetime.

Zonovan Knight with a run for the Jets against the Bears. Robert Sabo/NY Post

Revealing stat

Mike White has already thrown for three touchdowns in one game. Zach Wilson has four touchdowns in seven games this season.

Surprising snap count

RB Zonovan Knight played 30 snaps (48 percent) in the game. It was Knight’s NFL debut and the rookie played well. Knight was a surprise addition to the lineup with James Robinsion inactive. Knight then ended up playing even more than expected when Michael Carter exited the game in the second half with an ankle injury.

Game ball

This one is easy. Mike White had another day to remember, completing 22-of-28 passing for 315 yards and three touchdowns. White connected with 10 different receivers and woke up the Jets’ slumbering offense.

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