Mike White is a savage, a dog, and the Jets’ starting quarterback for at least this week against Chicago.
What he isn’t, however, is someone who will play “hero-ball” for Gang Green.
“Football’s the ultimate team sport, so if you start to play hero-ball, I think, that’s when things can go wrong,” White said Wednesday after being announced as this week’s starter. “If you believe you can solve the world’s problems on your own, that’s when you can get into a world of trouble. I’m just gonna go out there and execute the game plan as coached and as talked about throughout the week, and do it to the best of my ability and fight like hell for my guys out there.”
White found out Tuesday night, about 24 hours after head coach Robert Saleh said he wasn’t committed to Zach Wilson starting Sunday, that he would be the guy, and of course, he was thrilled.
“That’s what every player in this locker room wants is just a chance to compete and prove themselves,” White said. “But more importantly, it's just a chance to be a good teammate and help the team and worry about the team first.”
White was elevated to the nominal backup job a few weeks, relegating Joe Flacco to QB3, so he’s been preparing every week since then as if he was going to be the starter just in case.
“When you’re the backup you have to prepare like you're the starter, because the moment you don’t is the moment you get thrusted in there and things can’t go your way if you’re not prepared,” White said. “So, truthfully, my focus is on keeping the same process, focusing on the Bears, and helping this offense move the ball, score points, and win games.”
White played four games for the Jets last season while Wilson was hurt, starting three, and he completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 953 yards and five touchdowns against eight interceptions.
Four of those came in one game against the Bills, a game he said really opened his eyes to the learning curve of the NFL.
“If you don’t learn from it, that’s where it can hinder you,” White said. “I promise I have learned from it, and took the good and the bad and worked on the bad and built on the good and moved forward – and stepping into the huddle, the guys in the huddle know that I have that experience and can respect that.”
The Bears defense will present a stiff challenge, and this year’s team has a lot loftier expectations than the one he took over last year, but White is ready.
“Any time you step into the huddle as a quarterback and you have grown men looking at you, it means something to me," he said. "Whether we're 0-16 or if we're fighting for a playoff spot, me personally, it means something to me. And making it about the guys in this locker room, and that’s really all I’m focused on. I’m focused on the Bears and focused on performing well enough for these guys in this locker room and help give us all a fighting chance to win ball games.”
And his team, to a man, believes in him.
“He’s confident, poised. He’s pretty accurate with the ball,” said receiver Corey Davis. “You know, he’s a vet, he’s been at it for a while, so he knows how to run an operation and run it pretty smooth and get guys where they need to be. “So I'm excited. I’m excited to see what he’s gonna do with it, I’m excited to have him out there.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN