The New York Jets bounced back in a big way Sunday. Their 31-10 win against the Chicago Bears was the perfect tonic after a tumultuous week that included a last-second loss to the New England Patriots and the benching of quarterback Zach Wilson.
There was no angst Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Mike White led the offense to a season-high 466 yards and the defense was stout against a Bears team playing without injured quarterback Justin Fields. There was a good vibe on the field and Jets sideline.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 27, 2022
Asked to describe the feeling among the players, wide receiver Elijah Moore used one word.
That’s a mouthful coming from a player who was disgruntled and asked to be traded last month.
But the Jets can’t overreact to the dominating win. To that end, let’s check out a few New York Jets overreactions after their Week 12 win against the Bears.
1. Mike White is better long-term option at QB for the Jets than Zach Wilson
Mike White was damn good against the Bears. He completed 22 of 28 passes (75.9 percent) for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He played mistake-free football, made big plays, as well as the easy throws, and fired up his teammates.
Don’t underestimate that last part. These Jets players seem to love White. You don’t get that same vibe with how they feel about Zach Wilson.
"Personally the way I approach the quarterback position is being a calming presence in the huddle, especially when things aren't going well because that's when things can start to spiral…"
– Mike White on how he gets his team to play to the best of their ability pic.twitter.com/FqdakXinGh
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) November 27, 2022
This is now twice in four career starts when White sparked the Jets to a big win. In Week 8 last season, he was 37 of 45 in the air for 405 yards and three TDs in an upset victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. He also was off to a great start the following week against the Indianapolis Colts before leaving with a thumb injury.
There’s no doubt White has impressed.
But the 27-year-old has played fewer NFL games (five; four starts) than the 23-year-old Wilson (20 starts). And he did have a four-interception outing in Week 10 last season against the Bills. So, we need to temper the commentary about White’s greatness.
MIKE WHITE ➡️ ELIJAH MOORE
— PFF (@PFF) November 27, 2022
Simply, we need to see more from White. Can he maintain consistency? Will he adjust as opponents scheme against his strengths? How will he handle adversity?
White deserves the opportunity he’s been given. Just as Wilson deserved to be benched after his erratic play this season and his implosion against the Patriots last week.
It’s too soon to bury Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. And it’s too soon to anoint White the next great thing as far as NFL quarterbacks go.
Let’s see how White fairs in the coming weeks before we make any sweeping commentary about who’s the best option as the Jets quarterback of the future.
2. Jets are playoff bound after a dominating Week 12 victory
Take nothing away from the Jets. They needed to win this week, for their psyche and to regain footing in the AFC playoff race. And they not only won, they did so in convincing fashion.
Good on them.
The win upped their record to 7-4. If the season ended today, the Jets would be in the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season.
But the Jets face a difficult road to secure a postseason berth.
After dominating the 3-9 Bears, the Jets play road games against two of the NFL’s top teams the next two weeks. Next Sunday it’s the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings. Then it’s the 8-3 Buffalo Bills.
Four of their final six games are on the road, including the final two this season in Seattle against the Seahawks (6-5) and in Miami against the Dolphins (8-3).
If the Jets are to hold off stiff competition in the AFC, you’d think they’ll need to win each of their home games and at least one on the road.
So, the win against the Bears is good. But it does not guarantee a spot in the playoffs, no matter how impressive the Jets looked Sunday.
3. Bam Knight should be the lead running back for Jets down the stretch
Zonovan “Bam” Knight made quite the first impression Sunday. The rookie running back was elevated from the practice squad and made his NFL debut a memorable one. Knight topped 100 scrimmage yards, rushing for a team-high 69 yards on 14 carries and adding 34 receiving yards on three catches.
Like White, Knight made the most of his first opportunity this season. Now he needs to show he can maintain this level of play.
#Jets HC Robert Saleh said Zonovan ‘Bam’ Knight (@knight_zonovan) earned his opportunity behind the scenes, ‘one cut get vertical’ + on decision to make James Robinson a healthy scratch, ‘there’s been a lot of meat left on bone in run game’: 🎥 @nyjets #TakeFlight @PackFootball pic.twitter.com/zkiNzJTBZb
— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) November 27, 2022
And more opportunities should be on the horizon. Breece Hall is out for the season with a torn ACL. Michael Carter sustained a sprained ankle Sunday. James Robinson was inactive against the Bears.
But should Knight be the lead running back for the Jets down the stretch this season?
Based on Sunday, Knight deserves the chance to play more moving forward. But, like White, he still has much to prove.
So, no reason to burden the undrafted free agent from NC State with high expectations. Keep him in the rotation with Carter, Robinson and Ty Johnson. If he earns more reps, great. If it’s too much for the rookie, the Jets will learn soon enough.
But this kid has earned the next opportunity.