By Mark W. Sanchez
Mike White has noticed his profile rise significantly in the last calendar year. Since the previously unknown quarterback had a brush with unlikely stardom last October and November, fans occasionally identify him on the street or at the mall and ask for a picture, which he obliges.
“Nothing crazy,” he said, but definitely an uptick from his practice-squad days.
The Jets’ backup quarterback says, however, that he did not notice the fans at MetLife Stadium chanting his name during the second half of his team’s Week 1 loss to the Ravens.
“I didn’t really hear it at the time just because we’re so locked in to the game plan,” White said Friday after practice in Florham Park as the Jets prepared for another week with Joe Flacco at QB. “When Joe’s coming off the field, you’re talking over what happened with him. When Joe’s on the field, you’re watching what happens. I don’t really pay attention to it.
“I wouldn’t say it’s awkward. Fans chant things all the time.”
Fans chant for the backup when the starter is struggling, as Flacco was during a game in which the Jets struggled to do much of anything offensively. Head coach Robert Saleh called the protection issues, the dropped passes and the fumbles a “comedy of errors,” but the veteran Flacco was the face of the mistakes.
The Jets, missing the injured Zach Wilson, will give Flacco another try Sunday in Cleveland, while their folk hero will be holding the clipboard.
White took over last season for Wilson after the then-rookie hurt his knee. White led the Jets to their most shocking victory of the year. Using an array of short passes, White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in Week 8 to pull off a stunner over a Bengals team that went on to reach the Super Bowl.
White hurt his forearm the next week and was not overly impressive in a Week 10 blowout loss to the Bills, after which he handed off to Wilson. White’s moment was over.
Maybe he was a one-week wonder, but not if you ask him. White said he still feels he can be a starter in the NFL.
“Like it was last year, just got to wait for when that time is and got to capitalize on the opportunity,” the 27-year-old said. “Hopefully that one [opportunity] can kind of lead into some more and get some momentum.”
If Flacco continues to flounder before Wilson returns, the Jets would have another quarterback dilemma — and a backup who always believes he can help.
“You can’t play this position without an immense amount of confidence. You just can’t,” White said. “I think your teammates would see right through it, and they wouldn’t be able to trust you in the huddle.”