Mike White got tackled again Monday morning, this time by his 15-month-old twins.
The New York Jets quarterback got up – just as he did all game Sunday. But this time with smiles instead of pain-induced grimaces.
White is dealing with a rib injury after he was rocked throughout the Jets’ 20-12 loss at Buffalo, including being forced to leave twice because of a pair of particularly rough – but legal – hits. He went to the hospital after the game for precautionary exams, was cleared and flew home with the team.
”I feel good,” White said. ”I mean, I don’t feel like 100 bucks because I just played a football game. But, nah, I feel good.”
Coach Robert Saleh said White’s rib injury will make him day to day, but he’s ”hopeful” he’ll start Sunday against Detroit. White is planning to be under center with the Jets (7-6) trying to continue their playoff push.
”I’m going to prepare as such,” White said. ”I feel like I can play. I feel like I’m ready to roll.”
White’s teammates and even some Bills opponents raved about the quarterback’s toughness after the game.
”I mean, that’s football,” White said. ”It’s the part you don’t miss during it because it hurts. But there’s part of it you do miss because you want to prove to your guys, listen, I’m willing to hang in there and take the hits necessary to move the ball down the field and show them that you’re willing to lay it all out there for them.”
There’s no question about any of that now.
And with the focus on when or if Zach Wilson will return, White solidified his hold on the starter’s job – at least for the short term.
”He’s tough as nails, man,” Saleh said.
Added White: ”I knew that if everything was fine, I was going in. You would’ve had to peel me off that field. It was never in my mind that I’m not finishing this game.”
White went 27 of 44 for 268 yards in a game during which the offense was derailed by a few turnovers – including one by Joe Flacco who came on in relief of White. The Jets’ defense kept New York in it with another terrific performance, limiting Josh Allen and the Bills to a season-low 232 total yards.
It all left Saleh declaring he believes the Jets will see the Bills again, meaning, in the playoffs.
New York has plenty to work on for that to happen, but confidence and toughness aren’t among them.
”We can go toe to toe with anyone,” Saleh said. ”Anyone who watches football can watch our games and say, `God, this team can play with anybody.’ Now, for this young football team, how do we become a team where you’re on the flip side of winning more consistently in these battles?
”It’s the details.”
The defense has been solid all year, from the pass rush to the cornerback duo of Sauce Gardner and D.J Reed limiting receivers to minimal impacts. That was again on display at Buffalo. If there’s one thing keeping the Jets from going from very good to elite, it’s the lack of takeaways. They have just one in the last four games.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The pass protection. The Jets allowed four sacks and eight quarterback hits – including the two that knocked White from the game. New York used its seventh different O-line combination, the result of so many injuries. But the big guys up front need to buy White a little more time and keep him from getting blasted.
RB Zonovan Knight. The undrafted rookie nicknamed ”Bam” has been terrific in his three NFL games, displaying a mix of power and speed out of the backfield. He has 230 yards on 46 carries – a 5.0-yard average – and ran for his first NFL touchdown Sunday.
RB Michael Carter. With the Jets trailing 20-9 but driving into Bills territory, the second-year running back fumbled with just under six minutes remaining. Carter, who returned from missing a game with a sprained ankle, finished with just 5 yards on five carries.
Saleh said DL Quinnen Williams is ”50-50” to play Sunday while dealing with a calf injury. … WR Corey Davis is in the concussion protocol. … Saleh ruled out LB Marcell Harris (ankle) and CB Brandin Echols (quadriceps) for Sunday, and added that Harris could be out for the season.
868 – That’s how many yards receiving Garrett Wilson has this season, breaking Keyshawn Johnson’s franchise record for rookies (844 in 1996). Wilson, the No. 10 overall pick in April, leads the Jets with 63 receptions and has four TDs.
The Jets play their final two home games in a five-day stretch, with games against the Lions, who are 6-7 and won five of six, and the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8), who are coming off a 36-22 romp of Tennessee. New York likely needs to win both – especially with road games at Seattle and Miami to close the regular season – to have a serious shot at ending an 11-year playoff drought.
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