Jets head coach Robert Saleh addresses if Mike White could remain starting QB when Zach Wilson returns

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Robert Saleh Mike White cropped 10/31/2021
Robert Saleh Mike White cropped 10/31/2021

Jets head coach Robert Saleh left the door open Sunday when asked if backup Mike White could remain as New York's starting quarterback after rookie and No. 2 overall 2021 NFL Draft pick Zach Wilson returns from a right knee injury sustained in Week 7.

With a day to process the 26-year-old's performance in Gang Green's 34-31 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Saleh answered a follow-up question to clarify the comments about White or Wilson and remained noncommittal.

"Listen, the reality, guys -- like, hypothetical -- I could be the next Vince Lombardi," Saleh said. "The reality is Mike played a really good game. We've got a really short turnaround. We've got to get ourselves going. And the whole hypothetical thing -- the focus is on this moment.

"Zach getting healthy is always at the forefront of our mind. But, at the same time, guys -- and, again, it's a hypothetical -- you just take the days as they come. I mean, that'd be the best thing I can answer. If everything goes according to plan and Zach comes back and he's healthy, we'll address it when we cross that bridge."

White completed 37 of 45 passes (82.2%) for 405 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions as the Jets (2-5) came alive on offense with a Week 8 upset of Cincinnati (5-3). Wilson, who completed 104 of 181 passes (57.%) for 1,168 yards and four touchdowns against nine interceptions in New York's first six games before getting sidelined with a PCL sprain last Sunday, was expected to miss the subsequent two-to-four weeks.

In the meantime, White has a chance to show Saleh more. A quick turnaround in Week 9, Thursday's 8:20 p.m. game at the Indianapolis Colts (3-5), is next up for White.

"It was exactly like everyone saw it," Saleh said of White's film. "He was really good. A lot of those play designs were designed to push the ball, but we talked about it before that Cincinnati was one of the top five teams in the league in terms of allowing explosive plays.

"And so, we were -- (offensive coordinator) Mike ... (LaFleur) was calling plays, explosives and they were doing everything they could to keep the ball in front, which allowed for a lot of space underneath and Mike did a really good job of getting it to the guys underneath and those guys did a really nice job creating yards after the catch."