Maybe Mike White isn’t the answer, after all

New York’s 27-22 loss to the Minnesota Vikings confirmed one thing that everyone probably knew going into this season: Mike White likely won’t be the long-term answer for the Jets at quarterback.

White went 31-of-57 for 369 yards with two interceptions. He’s settled in as a nice backup option for this team and should find work for a long time, but he’s not a starter — and that’s fine! Two things can be true: White is not the franchise quarterback for the Jets, but he’s still the best option for New York right now.

When the Jets decided to switch to White, they needed to stabilize their season and not throw away their first potential playoff berth in over a decade. That still looks to be a good decision. There isn’t anything they can do to significantly improve their quarterback situation this season, but White can still come in with a steady hand at times. This stretch of football should be affirmation of the idea that they need to make an investment at quarterback this offseason.

This is a team that has all the pieces in place to win now and sustain it for the next few years at minimum. No need to waste precious games figuring out if Zach Wilson is that guy — he’s clearly not if White is a significant upgrade over him.

Mike White is a good solution in the short-term for the Jets, but he's not the long-term answer. Sunday against Minnesota provided evidence. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)Mike White is a good solution in the short-term for the Jets, but he's not the long-term answer. Sunday against Minnesota provided evidence. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Mike White is a good solution in the short-term for the Jets, but he’s not the long-term answer. Sunday against Minnesota provided evidence. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

In a way, this makes the present situation easier to focus on. There’s really no pressure for either of these guys to prove they’re the guy the Jets have desperately been searching for. This season is now about stacking wins before evolving into their final form next year. If how the Jets’ players have responded to White’s presence in the lineup means anything, there’s almost no doubt the Jets will have a new starting quarterback next year.

“I’ll go to work for that boy,” rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson said following their loss to the Vikings. “He’s got something special about him.”

The Jets have drafted fairly well outside of the quarterback position over the past few years. Players like Quinnen Williams, Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Elijah Moore look to be core pieces of this team. The Jets can be on the fast track toward Super Bowl contention if they can figure out the most important position in the game. Easier said than done, obviously. Especially if the Jets continue to win games.

Even with their loss to the Vikings, the Jets still find themselves in great shape to make the playoffs. At 7-5, they’ll be one of the seven teams in the AFC field if they can handle their business the rest of this month. That will make finding a quarterback harder. They’ll be far out of the range for top 2023 draft prospects Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, making a trade for a veteran far more likely.

Will they be able to pry someone like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo from their current teams? Or maybe make a larger swing for someone in a bad position like Kyler Murray? Who knows. They’ll have to get creative, but it’s clear that the quarterback who can lead sustained success is not on the roster now.