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HomeSportsConfident Mike White looking to turn this Jets’ shot into stardom

Confident Mike White looking to turn this Jets’ shot into stardom

The legend is still being written, but it might be best heard.

Mike White heard the cheers cascade through MetLife Stadium two weeks ago, when the no-name quarterback became a chanted name. After he improbably led the Jets to victory over the Bengals, the sing-song shouts erupted from the stands.

And though he was injured last week in a loss to the Colts, those cheers have not gone away.

“You walk in the locker room and some of these guys won’t stop chanting, ‘Mike White,’” Mike White said after practice Thursday. “I told them, I go, ‘It’s got to stop at some point, guys.’”

But does it?

White has not awakened from this dream yet, and the 2018 fifth-round pick (by the Cowboys) is preparing for another week as the starter. Zach Wilson, who strained his right PCL on Oct. 24 and said his knee is not yet 100 percent, will get another week to heal and to learn. The Jets have not made a commitment that Wilson will get the starting job back.

Mike White
Mike White
Getty Images

The Jets will get at least one more look at the 26-year-old White, who spent two seasons at South Florida before two at Western Kentucky and said, mentality wise, he believes he should have been the first pick in the draft, just as he believes now he can be one of the better quarterbacks in football. All players, he said, should have that confidence.

He was not the No. 1 pick, but No. 171. He lasted a year with Dallas, absorbing lessons from Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore, before he was waived and the Jets scooped him up. He was shuttled on and off the Jets’ practice squad and their roster beginning in 2019 and apparently ending in Week 8, when he threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in the stunning win over Cincinnati.

A forearm injury limited White to 11 pass attempts in last week’s loss at Indianapolis, but he is feeling better now. The injury slowed his momentum but did not halt it. On Sunday against the Bills, back at the stadium where his name rained down, White will have another chance to prove he is the unlikely right man for the job.

“He’s pretty confident in everything he does,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said of the former star high school pitcher. “I know when he goes out there on a golf course in the offseason, he feels like he’s going to take everyone on, and I feel like that’s the way he feels about all the sports and baseball. I know he was one of the better players in the country or something like that.

“I think everything he’s done in his life to this point has been pretty successful, and he believes that no matter where he’s at, he’s going to get it done.”

The Jets are open to him being right. But if his dream is nearing an end, the Buffalo defense is a strong contender to shake him awake.

White dinked-and-dunked his way past a middle-of-the-pack Bengals defense. The Bills will enter play as the toughest defense on passers, who have been held to a 62.9 rating this season. New England’s defense is second best at 76.6.

Buffalo has allowed just five passing touchdowns while coming up with 11 interceptions.

“They’re No. 1 in the NFL for a reason. They’ve played together for a long time,” White said of the Buffalo unit, which is led by safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

If there is an advantage to be gained, White probably knows a lot more about the Bills’ defense than the defense knows about him. And if there are more chants of his name at the end of the game, Wilson likely would have more time to rest his knee.

The situations are not identical, but C.J. Mosley, a Jets captain, witnessed a quarterback come off the bench and refuse to relinquish control when he was with Baltimore.

The 2018 Ravens fell to 4-5 after Joe Flacco (now a Jets backup) suffered a hip injury during a Week 9 loss. In came Lamar Jackson, who lost one regular-season game the rest of the way and led Mosley’s team to a playoff spot.

Jackson was a first-round pick with expectations. The star linebacker had real expectations for White, though, too.

Throughout OTAs and training camp, “when he was going against the [No.] 1 defense, he was making those same throws. He was showing that confidence at practice,” Mosley said of White. “When we saw it live when he first got in, we really weren’t surprised. We were surprised at 400 yards, but we weren’t surprised at his confidence, the way he was moving the ball, the way he controlled the game.”

Perhaps the Jets have discovered something in White. Mike. White.

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