Mike White isn't exactly a complicated name to remember. But, after his monster Week 8 performance, it'll certainly be hard to forget.
Making his first NFL start on Sunday against the Bengals, the Jets quarterback absolutely blew the roof off the already roofless MetLife Stadium, compiling 405 yards passing and three touchdowns while tossing two interceptions and getting sacked twice in a 34-31 upset victory.
Robert Saleh, who was all smiles following his club's second win of the season, praised White for his professionalism after being thrust into the spotlight in place of injured rookie Zach Wilson. Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is expected to be sidelined a few more weeks after suffering a knee injury last week.
"Mike is fantastic," Saleh said. "He's poised, he's showed it all throughout camp, all throughout OTAs, that he deserves to be one of those guys and obviously he showed it today."
When asked if White could be the long searched for answer under center, Saleh was cautious but did not dismiss the notion.
"We'll take it day to day, but anything's possible," Saleh said. Saleh also told reporters White would start Thursday night against the Colts.
If Sunday's effort was any indication, it may be hard to overlook the Western Kentucky product moving forward if he continues to perform well in Wilson's absence.
White's big day began a perfect 10-for-10 across New York's opening two drives, the first of which ended with an eight-yard Michael Carter run for an early 7-0 lead. Following a successful flea flicker six plays into the second series, the good times temporarily stopped rolling after Bengals safety Jessie Bates III picked off a deflected pass intended for Jamison Crowder .
The cheers were quieted even further when White was intercepted two plays into the next series after throwing an errant pass while under duress that bounced off Carter's face mask and into linebacker Germaine Pratt's hands. A missed field goal, punt and lost Crowder fumble on the ensuing drives painted a bleak picture Jets fans are all too familiar with. Until, almost out of nowhere, New York received a shot of adrenaline.
White capped a eight-play, 67-yard drive just before halftime with a TD pass to receiver Braxton Berrios to make it 17-14. Then, with N.Y. trailing 31-20 following a pair of Bengals TDs and Jets FGs, White went to work. He found running back Ty Johnson for a 19-yard catch-and-run score, followed that with a 13-yard strike to tight end Tyler Kroft -- aided by a field-flipping Shaq Lawson INT -- and capped things off by catching a pass for the two-point conversion and the eventual game-winning points.
"It's Mike f'ing White. He's a savage, he's a dog, he's an animal," touted Johnson, who boosted the QB's skills leading up to the big day. "I said it on Monday, I'll say it again. I'm gonna keep saying it."
Is it possible that White, fresh off becoming only the 2nd QB since at least 1950 with 400-plus pass yards in his first career start, is indeed everything Johnson thinks he is and the Jets hope he will be?
His next opportunity to prove that will come on Thursday Night Football. Expecting him to duplicate Sunday's success may be a big ask moving forward but another solid outing could yield questions few could've seen coming entering the season.