Jets general manager Joe Douglas insists he’s “in lockstep” with Robert Saleh on the Jets’ immediate plans regarding their suddenly fascinating quarterback situation.
Mike White will make his second consecutive start Thursday in Indianapolis — four days after a breakout, winning performance in his first NFL start — and Douglas backed Saleh’s refusal to make any pronouncements that the starting job automatically will be Zach Wilson’s when the prized draft pick returns from a knee injury.
“Absolutely. I’m in lockstep. Coach and I talk every day and at this point we have positive vibes only and we’ve got a tough assignment this week in terms of Indianapolis and that’s our only focus,” Douglas said during his first press conference since the start of the season. “We’re getting Mike ready for Indianapolis and trying to beat a very tough opponent on the road on a short week.
“I’m in lockstep with Coach and anything other than that, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
Asked directly then if he could envision a scenario in which White might continue starting over Wilson, the No.2 overall pick in the draft, Douglas reiterated: “Again, I’m just going to piggyback on everything that Coach said and we’re going to cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Douglas didn’t move any significant players that had been widely discussed — namely Marcus Maye, Jamison Crowder or Denzel Mims — ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline. Instead, he added some needed offensive line depth in Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, after also reacquiring veteran quarterback Joe Flacco last week from the Eagles.
Flacco’s arrival was made less significant after the emergence of White, a former fifth-round pick (Cowboys) who threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals.
“I can’t say enough good things about Mike, talk about a person who maximized his opportunity,” Douglas said. “I’m so happy for Mike because this is what football’s all about. You root for guys that do their thing in the shadows and make the most of their opportunity.”
The 26-year-old White likely would have to continue to post eye-popping numbers and another win over the Colts to truly relegate Wilson to the bench because of how much the Jets have invested in the former BYU star. They even have added Wilson’s personal quarterback guru, John Beck, to the coaching staff to make the rookie more comfortable once he returns from the PCL sprain he suffered in his right knee during a Week 7 blowout loss to the Patriots.
“I think obviously you see the playmaking ability that Zach brings … a defense has to defend every single blade of grass going against Zach and his arm,” Douglas said “Some of the throws he makes, the tight windows he makes, he can make every single throw. And it’ll be great to see him continue to develop in this offense with [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur.”
Of course the Jets lost five of the six games that Wilson has started, and the rookie has thrown just four touchdown passes with nine interceptions and a league-low 63.5 passer rating. Still, Douglas believes the 22-year-old signal-caller “absolutely” had been progressing before the injury.
“I feel like he was on his way to really taking off in that New England game,” Douglas said. “I think it’s tough for rookie quarterbacks in the National Football League and I think you’ve seen that, but the character that he has, the caliber of teammate he is, he was voted captain for a reason by his teammates.
“He’s a tough-minded young man and has a great work ethic and I think you’ll continue to see him shoot up. His arrow is pointing straight up and he’s going to continue getting better every day once he gets on the field.”
Asked how “close” he believes the Jets are to becoming a winning team, Douglas added: “Honestly, that’s a good question. I feel like the encouraging thing we’re seeing is a team that’s able to bounce back after a tough game in New England to play like they did against Cincinnati. And the [win Oct. 3] against Tennessee. This is a team that’s capable of playing really good football. So we’re just trying to build, day-in and day-out. … It was good to see the guys as a whole battle back, battle through it and get better every day.”
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