Jets’ Mike White toughs out loss, solidifies grip on QB job

ORCHARD PARK, NJ — New York Jets quarterback Mike White was physically beaten in a 20-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, prompting a post-game trip to a local hospital for precautionary tests on an injured rib, but he could have solidified the starting job for the rest of the season.

White, now 1-2 since replacing Zach Wilson, will start again next Sunday against the Detroit Lions – if he is healthy.

“Yes, definitely,” said coach Robert Saleh, endorsing White, who rejoined the team for the flight home.

As Saleh spoke to the media, White got into an ambulance in the stadium tunnel. During a third-quarter assessment, which included X-rays after a fierce hit to his ribs by linebacker Matt Milano, “he checked out well.”

White spent time with the medical staff in the dressing room but returned to finish the game and was praised for his toughness by teammates. After a post-game evaluation, it was decided to send him to the hospital for further tests. Saleh said it was “more precautionary than anything.”

The Jets (7-6) are on their first losing streak in two games of the season, they have serious problems with pass protection and star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is struggling with a calf injury (he’s day-in, Saleh said), but they were behind surprisingly optimistic about the game.

Saleh boosted her confidence by essentially telling the team they would make the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons — a bold statement. He repeated this sentiment to the media.

“We’ll see those guys again,” said Saleh, whose team shared the relay series with the Bills (10-3).

“I think our team is good enough (to reach the playoffs). Of course it’s week to week but we have a good football team.”

And it could be white leading the way. He hasn’t been named a permanent starter, but the upcoming schedule suggests so. After the Lions, the Jets meet the Jacksonville Jaguars on a Thursday night in Week 16 — and they’re unlikely to make a quarterback change in a short week.

Saleh has said he intends to play Wilson again, but would likely roll white if the Jets stay in contention in Weeks 17-18. Wilson, drafted second overall in 2021, was inactive for the third straight game.

“I think he showed determination, toughness, everything we’ve seen,” Saleh said of White. “He’s a good player.”

White completed 27 of 44 passes for 268 yards, giving him 952 yards in three starts. He has led the offense to just two touchdowns in eight- and five-point losses to the Bills and Minnesota Vikings, respectively, despite pressure from the Bills.

The numbers were ugly — three sacks, seven quarterback hits and 20 pressings. The hits were bad.

In the second quarter, White was chested by Ed Oliver, causing him to miss two plays. At 4:41 in the third quarter and the Jets trailing 14-7, he was crushed by Milano. He was downstairs for a few minutes and was taken to the dressing room. Joe Flacco replaced him both times, fumbling with a stripe sack in the first game of his second cameo.

“He’s a dog, man,” center Connor McGovern said of White. “He’s willing to do anything to win. That’s what every guy in this locker room has to do when he’s not. I think everyone is like that. Unfortunately, today Mike was an example of that. The boys are ready to do whatever it takes to take the Jets to the playoffs and beyond.

Running back Michael Carter, who had a costly fourth-quarter fumble deep in Buffalo territory, called White a “damn soldier, bro. I love playing with this guy.” Wide receiver Garrett Wilson said White “has a lot of heart and he’s going to put it on the line for his boys. I would do the same for him.”

Running back from the dressing room, White was 20-7 with 12:25 in the fourth quarter. The Jets had four more possessions but managed only one field goal in addition to a safety on a blocked punt. Carter’s fumbling with the Buffalo 23 was tremendous.

“We ran power, it opened up like Disney World and I was just trying to get a touchdown,” Carter said. “I tried to run him over, I tried to crank him but (Taron Johnson) made a good play.” Jets’ Mike White toughs out loss, solidifies grip on QB job

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