Jets’ Saleh: ‘We have a tremendous young core’

After defeating the Buffalo Bills in Week 9, the New York Jets were 6-3 and playing their best football of the season heading into the bye week.

Eight weeks later, the Jets(7-9), who lost six of their last seven, including five straight, were officially eliminated from the playoffs after falling on the road to the Seahawks 23-6.

“It’s disappointing,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after the loss. “Because I know the five-game losing streak, and I know we battled in a bunch of games. This one is — this one, we could have been a lot better, especially these last two games, just I feel like we’re a better football team than this. Obviously starts with me, but yeah.”

Jets quarterback Mike White, who missed the last two games with a rib injury, struggled in his return. White was 23/46 for 240 yards and two interceptions.

Missing the playoffs is tough for White.

“It stings, it’s tough, it’s gut-wrenching, and it’s all of the above; it’s whatever adjective you can use to describe it,” he said. “By no means are there moral victories. In the grand scheme of things, we are playing meaningful football late in the season, but also, I think we are at the point where we don’t care about moral victories.”

Saleh added: “I promise you no one is hurting more than the people in the locker room, especially me. But at the same time, I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s still a lot of really cool things to look at from this season. But right now, it stings big time right now.”

New York has a lot of questions surrounding the quarterback position. Zach Wilson has not played well this season, but the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, is still only 23 years old and could get better, and while White had some success this season, it doesn’t appear he is the long-term answer for the Jets.

According to Saleh, the Jets have progressed in the two seasons he has been with the team.

“I do; we have a tremendous young core, I do believe that,” he said. “I look at the first half of our season, and we’re fully healthy going into the bye week, we’re 6-3, and everything was looking up. You know, one thing leads to another, and you lose a couple of really tight games, and these last two games, there just hasn’t been anywhere near playoff-caliber football for us. You know you lose to a Minnesota team in the last second, you lose to a Buffalo team in the last second, you lose to the Lions in the last second, and so I know we’re close. I know it stings right now. It stings. But I know we’ve made a lot of headway over the last two years, and we’ll continue to do so.”

The 2022 season was a success for the Jets, and vying for a playoff spot in Week 17 is a win for this team. They still have some questions to answer, but the franchise should be happy about where they stand as they prepare for the offseason.

Jets’ Mike White dazzles in win over Bears

New York Jets quarterback Mike White started in place of an ineffective Zach Wilson against the Bears on Sunday, and maybe, just maybe, the Jets may have found their starting quarterback for the rest of the season and beyond.

White, who battled the rain, was 22/28 for 315 yards and three touchdowns as the Jets routed the Bears 31-10 at MetLife Stadium. White led the Jets on an opening drive touchdown for the first time this season when he connected with Garrett Wilson on an eight-yard touchdown pass. In fact, White finished the first half with 235 yards and two touchdowns. The 235 yards in the first half is the most by a Jets quarterback since 2006.

“He did a great job,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after the win. “He didn’t need to be anybody but Mike White. We didn’t need to turn into ‘The Greatest Show on Turf.’ We just wanted him to play within himself and play efficient. I thought he did that.”

White hit ten different receivers on Sunday, including Jets rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who had five catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson had high praise for White.

“He comes in and prepares, goes about his business the right way and goes about his preparation the right way, and you do things like that consistently, you’re going to get it back on the back end,” Wilson said. “I think we saw that today. That’s a really good talent, really good mindset, and when you have things like that, that’s what comes up.”

In three starts, Flacco threw five touchdowns, Wilson had four touchdowns in seven starts, and White came close to that number on Sunday. 

“It’s awesome, just going out there and playing football with your friends and guys you’ve been with for a couple years now,” White said about getting the start. “When it wasn’t my time to play, obviously, I’m super supportive of them, and I’m having fun with them, too, but just to be out there and be a part of it and help the team win is always fun.”

Jets fans have been waiting for this type of quarterback play all season long and, at one point, were chanting White’s name.

“It’s always cool,” White said about the chants. “I’m not going to sit here and give you some quarterback cliché that I’m not focusing on that, which, there are times I’m not. But towards the end of the game, I think it would be a lot cooler if they didn’t do it while we were trying to snap the ball, but no, I’m not going to complain too much about that.”

Last season, White started four games for the Jets, and there were some highs, which included throwing for 405 yards against the Bengals, and some lows, which included a four-interception game against the Bills, but according to White, those lows have helped him.

“Yeah, I think going out there, you have the experience to draw on from last year,” he said. “but every game is its own game, and you’ve got to play to such, but having the experience of being out there and having the highs, having the lows as well, you can’t just learn from the highs, you’ve got to learn from the lows, and drawing upon that and using that to help you however you can.”

Following this performance, the 27-year-old quarterback has earned another start and should be the starter the rest of the way. After his play on Sunday, you wonder why he was not the guy earlier in the season when Wilson was injured. White, who was impressive in the preseason, picked up where he left off in the preseason, and the Jets hope it continues.

Jets’ Saleh does not rule out quarterback change

On Sunday, Joe Flacco and the jets’ offense had a lot of struggles in the team’s 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener at MetLife Stadium. New York scored only nine points; Flacco was sacked three times and under pressure throughout the game. In addition, the Jets were terrible on third-down conversions(2/14).

The 15-year veteran finished the game 37/59 for 359 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The touchdown came when the game was out of reach.

During Sunday’s loss, the MetLife Stadium crowd called for QB Mike White to replace the 37-year-old Flacco. It did not happen, but it could be something that Jets coach Robert Saleh may do if the offense continues to struggle while Zach Wilson(knee) recovers from injury.

“Right now, everything’s always under discussion and under review, talking with Rob (Calabrese), talking with Mike (LaFleur),” Saleh said. “Obviously, we’re not done with our postgame evaluation and all that stuff, and much appreciated with the passion with quarterbacks and all that stuff, but Joe’s (Flacco) been very, very steady throughout OTAs, training camp.

“Last year, threw four over 300 on Miami in a really good game. We’ve got all the utmost faith in Joe. Does that mean something can’t happen tonight? I’m not going to promise you anything, but at the same time, as of now, Joe is our starting quarterback.”

When asked if a final decision was made about who would start on Sunday, Saleh said the following:

“Yeah, it’s more likely going to be Joe, guys, but to be honest, the doors open on every position every week.”

The Jets are in rebuild mode right now, and few people think they are very good. According to Saleh, he’s watching everyone who’s mocking the Jets and is taking receipts.

“We’re all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we aren’t going to do anything,” he said. “I’m taking receipts, and I’m going to be more than happy to share them with all of you when it’s all said and done.”

Regarding Flacco, the Jets might want to go with Mike White, who was decent in the preseason and threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last season in his first career start. He’s younger(27) and probably won’t be much worse than Flacco was on Sunday. 

We’ll see what Saleh does as the team travels to Cleveland to face the Browns.