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Mike White made ‘easy things look easy’ for the Jets, and it might cost Zach Wilson the locker room

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In most quarterback disputes, there is always an economy of language that develops within teams. Players become more concise about what they prefer about a particular quarterback’s skills. Coaches tend to be more direct about what is going well and what is not in the position. Eventually, the chosen leader emerges from the choir in the locker room.

It is rare that such a crescendo occurs after one successful game. In the case of the New York Jets, that is exactly what it sounds like. So much so that in one Jets 31-10 tag team victory over a battered Chicago Bears team, new starting quarterback Mike White could very well win his entire locker room.

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In turn, Zach Wilson may have lost it – although there is an argument that Wilson has been steadily losing a piece of him over the course of several weeks. Perhaps much of that exhaustion came last week when Wilson answered with a stern no when asked if he felt he had let down his defense after a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots. As Wilson eventually realized when he was replaced by head coach Robert Saleh, it’s one thing when an offense is struggling to keep up with a playoff-ready defense, and quite another not to have the self-awareness to know when you’re actively inflicting pain. the same unit.

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When a quarterback shows such ignorance, it puts the throne of leadership on the line. After Sunday, White took his place on that throne, and it looked like the rest of the roster was ready to carry him on their shoulders for the rest of the season.

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Consider that a week ago, wide receiver Garrett Wilson said of the Jets’ offense: “Sorry about that crap. We look sorry here, and we know we’re not sorry. That’s why it really hurts. We know we’re better than that.”

The Jets' professional players, such as wide receiver Garrett Wilson (17), seemed thrilled.  Mike White was the starting quarterback on Sunday.  (Photo by Mike Stoub/Getty Images)
Seasoned Jets players like wide receiver Garrett Wilson (17) seemed excited. Mike White was the starting quarterback on Sunday. (Photo by Mike Stoub/Getty Images)

A week later, Wilson touted the offense, finally snapping and praising White’s preparation and execution. Elijah Moore, whose chemistry with Zach Wilson sounded broken, left the field, telling the SNY television cameras, “This is real New York Jets football,” then joked in the locker room about rediscovering his relationship with football as the players around him sang he is serenaded for being “free again”.

What about protection? Linebacker C.J. Moseley talked about how the game was fun, while defenseman Sauce Gardner spoke to reporters about the franchise’s positive atmosphere during the week.

This vibe seemed to be everywhere by Sunday evening, in videos and interviews, as well as on the players’ social media accounts. It was a far cry from the players a week ago explaining how they “loved” the tweets that seemed to be critical of Wilson’s post-Patriot loss.

It could all be attributed to the players expressing joy over the dominant win and the quarterback who helped balance the extra football, save for one line from Saleh that stood out. While this may not have been a direct hit on Wilson, Saleh seemed to echo some of the past issues, talking about how White executed the attack with ease. The same offense that last offseason had to be tweaked to keep the cannon-wielding Wilson from being too over-engineered.

“He didn’t have to be anything other than Mike White,” Saleh said. “We didn’t have to turn into Greatest Show on Turf. We just wanted him to play within himself and play effectively. I thought he did it. … He made the simple easy.”

All the positivity and applause for White is great considering the Jets know his big day came against a minor Bears who were decimated by injuries. Of course, White’s numbers were too high compared to Wilson’s last few games: 22-of-28 passes for 315 yards, three touchdowns and a ridiculous 149.3 passer rating. The most notable thing about those three passing touchdowns? There are four Wilsons in total this season. AT Seven starts.

It is also remarkable how white did it. There was nothing wildly complicated about it. He was effective in a series of short, easy passes, hitting a few intermediate balls in tight moments, and letting long-range passes do the dirty work on some mid-level passes that turned into big plays. He dealt the ball to 10 different players and breathed life into some receivers who had been sitting in a junkyard for months.

When you listened to White, it certainly didn’t sound like it happened by accident. If anything, it sounded like the kind of lead the franchise was craving.

“Personally, I’m in the position of quarterback, calming the presence in the crowd, especially when things are not going well,” White told reporters. “Because that’s when things can start to snowball. It’s just to pass the ball around and let them be who they are. They’re all in the locker room for a reason. This is the NFL. Everyone who wears pads on Sundays is very good. You just have to give them the ball and boost their confidence.”

There is no doubt that confidence was surging on Sunday. And there is even less doubt that White is the only one who can now cost himself a place in the starting lineup. Wilson has no intention of returning to the roster after seeing the team’s reaction to White. Not to mention that he made the players around him better, not worse.

Wilson couldn’t talk about it that often this season. Maybe never. Which is why this locker room is clearly following someone else to Minnesota next week. And maybe even further.


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