Zach Wilson, the shiny, new quarterback for the New York Jets is hurt. So fans of the Buffalo Bills will have to wait to see his debut against our defense. In his place is Mike White who created some buzz as the Jets took down the Cincinnati Bengals. White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns. White had an 82 percent completion percentage and 9.0 yards per attempt. That’s a phenomenal game. In his other two appearances White has been solid, albeit not quite as spectacular as he was taking down Cincinnati. Let’s check in on how he’s getting it done.
Next Gen Stats
Here’s a link to all three of Mike White’s passing charts but we’ll focus on the game against the Bengals due to volume and that it’s pretty representative of all three.
Anything jump out? Note, the following isn’t to disparage White who absolutely had a great game. His efficiency (9.0 Y/A remember) is propped up by his completion percentage. Dropping off incomplete passes which are recorded as 0 yards will do that. His completion percentage is similarly propped up by a pretty exclusive relationship with short passes.
White only attempted one pass of 20 yards, and that was barely. Roughly half his passes were within five yards of the line of scrimmage or less. Nearly a quarter were BEHIND the line of scrimmage.
Let’s talk about two key stats that support the above, starting with time to throw. This measures exactly what it sounds like, the time between the snap and the throw on average. Mike White averages 2.63 seconds in this metric. That’s fifth fastest in the league. In other words, with White at QB the Jets are looking to get the ball out as fast as possible.
The other item we’ll look at is intended air yards, which is the average distance the ball travels in the air before the catch (or incompletion). White comes in at 5.7 yards on average. That’s the worst in the league and worlds below average. This year’s league average is right around 8.0 intended air yards. If you’re curious, Josh Allen sits at 8.5 currently, which is in the top third.
I know it’s limited film to study, but the Jets seem to like this concept of making it look like there might be a run play or extra pass protection. Instead, Mike White is routinely given safety-valve targets.
Here it’s just another wrinkle of the same concepts. Give White plenty of short, easy targets.
The first two plays came from the Jets’ opening drive, likely forming part of the “script” the offense wanted to start with. This one from late in the game looks like it’s designed to give Mike White time to scan and make some decisions on throwing. His target eventually a safety valve catching the ball at the original line of scrimmage.
None of the above is intended to discount Mike White as a quarterback. It is intended to point out the great lengths the Jets take to make life easier for him. The Bills could go a long way toward victory simply by taking away the short game.