Well, that helps. There’s nothing like a blowout win to assuage hurt feelings. Mike White was more than anyone could have hoped for, and his great play and the win against Chicago put some of the pain of the New England game further back into the rearview. White played the best game at quarterback that the Jets have had this season and the best game at the position since week two. The defense shut out the Bears in the second half and held them to just ten points for the game. The Jets won the turnover battle and kept themselves in both the playoff and divisional races with the win.
It would be a bit misleading if we don’t mention the multiple qualifiers on this week’s win. Justin Fields was deactivated before the game due to an injury. The Bear’s defense is one of the league’s worst. The Bear’s season was over before they came to town – they now sit at 3-9 and are left to evaluate talent for the 2023 season. All of those things are true, but what is also true is that Mike White can only play when and against whom he is allowed to, and the Jets can only play the teams that are on their schedule. The Jets didn’t injure Justin Fields, and they didn’t help the Bears lose the eight other games they have dropped this year. The Bears were this week’s opponent, and Mike White and the Jets beat them the way a good team should beat a bad team. There are no apologies necessary.
There will not be any qualifiers necessary for the next two weeks. Gang Green travels to Minnesota to face the 9-2 Vikings Sunday. The Vikings may not be as strong a team as their record indicates, but they are certainly a quality opponent, and the Vikings spent Sunday doing something the Jets have failed to do in two attempts: beating the Patriots. If the Jets and Mike White play well in Minnesota, there will be no detraction from the win based on the strength of opponent. Things get even more difficult the following week as the Jets travel to Buffalo to face the Bills. The Bills will not be surprised by the Jets after losing in the Meadowlands earlier this month. Buffalo will undoubtedly have that game’s bad taste in their mouth as they take the field, raising the degree of difficulty for New York. So, if you are in the camp that believes Mike White has proven little yet, be patient – just how good White and the Jets are will be very clear by 4 p.m. on December 11th.
The Jets face one of this season’s most prolific players on Sunday. Justin Jefferson has been electric for Minnesota. Jefferson trails Tyreek Hill by just one yard for the league lead in receiving yardage. Jefferson has 81 catches on the season and has not fumbled. The Vikings have one of the league’s best-balanced offenses. Dalvin Cook is sixth in the league in rushing yards and has run for six touchdowns thus far. Cook is also solid with the ball in his hands, fumbling just once on the season. Kirk Cousins, starting quarterback for Minnesota, is the guy from whom the Jets defense can create turnovers. Cousins has played well on the whole, but he has fumbled it once and has been intercepted nine times. Minnesota struggles in pass protection. Cousins has been sacked 28 times in eleven games. The Jets should be able to apply steady pressure and cause Cousins to add to his turnover totals for the season.
On offense, the Jets are facing the league’s second-worst unit. Only the Lions have given up more yards than the Vikings. Mike White should be able to find holes in the porous Vikings secondary, and the Jets should be able to eclipse the 114 yards rushing the Vikings allow on average. The Jets have the more complete team assuming they get continued solid play at quarterback and can stay away from turnovers. If the Jets can keep Jefferson from making too many big plays, they should be able to grind Cousins and the Vikings to a halt and take advantage of their weak defense for a big road win.