Mike White: The Best Part is the Comradery & the Locker Room, Hanging Out With the Guys
Mike White mania is taking over after his amazing game against the Chicago Bears. White spoke to the media on Thursday and this is the entire recording.
What stands out about the Vikings defense?
Veteran. They’ve played a lot of ball, they’re an experienced bunch, they’re smart, they play with vision, so you’ve definitely got to be on your P’s and Q’s, and you got to execute and be on your details, because on top of that in the back end in the pass rush, I mean Za’Darious Smith and Danielle Hunter, they’re good. It’s no walk in the park, got to be on your stuff and got to execute.
Will they test your patience because it seems like they play a lot of cover two and certainly going to test you that way?
Yeah, I’m sure. They play what they play, and they play it well and I think, like I said, it helps having a lot of experience on the back end and yeah, they kind of play that dome-ish, quarter, quarter half type, keep everything in front and limit the big plays. So, yeah, I think it’s a test of patience, they’re like alright, how many times are you going to take what we give you? And know when most of the time, quarterbacks do want to make that splash play and push the ball downfield, but you can’t get caught in that game, you’ve got to take what they give you and there is space to be had and when you do that, you have to consistently do it.
We talked to (Mike) LaFleur today and he was referencing how the Bills game last year when things didn’t go so hot, after watched the film you saw you basically were just a little bit ahead, like your body was a little off from what you were seeing, but your reads were right, and you were there. How much did you learn from that game and how much different did you feel after that game?
I learned a lot from that game, and I can play, I think I’ve said it in a couple interviews before, I can play every play in that game in my head over and over again way more than the Cincinnati game or even last game just because I think that’s when you learn the most, is the games that don’t go so well. So, I learned a lot and like you said, like LaFleur said, I think the problem that I can get into is I am, luckily, I’m able to process things pretty quickly, it’s just keeping my body in sync with how fast my brain is processing. So, if I know this isn’t going to be open I get off of it right away, whereas in a timing sense with routes, it’s necessary to take a three and a hitch to that one and then second hitch to this one because it’s not going to show up in time and I think that’s just what happened in Buffalo is I got off of that knowing it wasn’t going to be there and I was there too early and things are all thrown off because pass game’s all about timing. So, I learned a lot and on top of that it’s just not playing hero ball like I’ve referenced a bunch of times and I’m going to continue to reference because I think that was a big part of why I think that game got away from me is I thought I needed to get the team back into the game with every throw and that’s just not how the game is supposed to be played.
Can you talk about how three years ago you got here as a practice squad guy who was relatively unknown and now you’re starting in a December game with playoff implications, how crazy does that sound?
It is crazy, but that’s the NFL. It’s me right now, I’m sure a couple years down the road, it’ll be someone else and you can go to another team, it’s somebody else and that’s just the nature of the sport. Injuries happen, a lot of things happen and change so quick in this League, and you got to be ready, and you got to be prepared because when that time does come, you’ve got to be able to seize it and that’s how you can make a long career out of your journey here.
Mike, you obviously last year had the starting job for a little while. Is your mindset this time around to play a high level like last week so you keep it long-term? Do you feel like you’re a good enough player to be a long-term starting quarterback for the Jets?
Yeah, I think right now, the only way to attack this, and the same as last year, is a game at a time. The NFL is, I remember someone told me last year, I can’t remember who, the NFL is 17 one-week seasons. Because when you win one week you’re on top of the world, you lose the next week and it’s the end of the world, so I think how I’m going to personally attack this is a week-by-week basis, try to win, try to beat Minnesota this week, do it and have fun with my guys, preparing going out there and performing. Then once this week is over, we move on to whoever we have next week. I truly believe that’s the only way you can play and that’s kind of how you stay focused in the now.
How do you not look over your shoulder though?
Yeah, the human nature of it, you’re always going to do that. I think it just comes with maturity and experience, and the experience of it. Like, that even happens in high school, when I remember my junior year I was in a quarterback competition, and I lost the battle, and my senior year same thing and I won the competition. In the beginning, I think I did look over my shoulder and I didn’t play as well as I could’ve, and I kind of eliminated that from my brain and just went out and played. I think whenever you’re looking over your shoulder, you’re not going to play to your true potential. So, the human aspect of it, you’re definitely going to, but you got to find a way whatever your process is or your mental ability is, to erase that and just go play.
But it has to be like some type of, in the back of your mind that you can make this interesting, especially considering the way that you played, if you continue to play well and make that decision a lot harder than what it is?
The only thing that I’m focused on in playing well, if I play well that correlates to wins, and that’s all that matters. That’s all anybody in this locker room wants to do, and I’ll let the chips fall where they may after, but right now my only concern is winning and helping this team win, and seeing where that gets us come beginning of January, middle of January.
Robert Saleh was saying the other day that, you know you kind of had a slow start in training camp this year. And he mentioned something about maybe having a conversation with you, and then you had that good game against the Giants. Did you get off to maybe a little bit of a slow start in camp, and kind of what was the turning point to get it turned around?
Yeah I think just kind of a reset, and really focusing in on the fundamentals and taking a step back, and working on the little things that helped build to bigger things. I think yeah just, for whatever reason it was, I mean that feels like four years ago. Whatever the reason was, but that’s what training camp is for, in my opinion, is getting better at things, and honing in on the fundamentals. You start from square one every year and then you build up to this point, so I mean yeah, that just kind of was what it was, and work on, and I’m proud of coming out of the other side of it.
When we talked to you after the Bengals game last year, I know Training Camp feels like four years ago, so that feels probably like a decade ago, one of the first things you said to us was that you couldn’t wait to get home and see your family, you couldn’t wait to see your family after the locker room. What was the embrace like with them after this one? Or was your wife now like you’ve done it once before, so was she a little more critical?
My wife actually looked at me and when I first saw her, she was like, “Who are you?” She was awesome and my parents were able to come up. This time, the only difference was walking into my apartment and my kids were running up to me. Instead of that Cincy game last year, they were in their rockers, just four months old just wondering when the next bottle was. So, that was cool having them run up to me and want to play. I think that’s the coolest thing about having kids. I’m going on a little off-football tangent, but it just helps you separate football and outside life. Whenever I’m in here, I’m Mike White the quarterback, but whenever I go home, I’m just Millie and Maddox’s dad. It’s so cool.
Do they have any comprehension of your job?
How’s your chemistry going with Garrett (Wilson) because he’s a guy that you didn’t have any game experience with I guess outside of the preseason, but how is your chemistry going with him?
Garrett is awesome. He’s a really, really good player, but he’s an even better guy. He’s so easy to build chemistry with because if you see something and you come up to him, whether he agrees with you or not, you’ll never know because he’ll always go, ‘Yeah, uh huh, I got you for sure,’ but in the back of his mind he could be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t see it that way,’ but he’s never going to let you know. He respects the quarterback and what the quarterback is seeing and what the quarterback is saying. He’s always going to do it that way. He’s willing to have a dialogue about what he sees. A lot of times, he’s correct, too, because he does see the game really well and has a good feel for stuff. Anytime you have a guy like that who is a good player and a good person, it’s fun to work with.
You talked about that compartmentalization between family and here. How much do you think that helps you as a football player to be able to leave it here when you go home and kind of have those two separate identities?
I, personally, think it’s awesome. I remember my second camp in Dallas. I was in a quarterback competition with Cooper Rush, and I was so consumed in stress and worried about what was going on. I took it with me outside of the facility, and it consumed me, and I didn’t play well. I just flat out didn’t play well, lost the job, and that’s how I ended up here. I think it’s big. You got to be able to separate work — because this is our work — and home, and whether it’s your kids, your friends, your family, whatever you got, I think you got to have something outside because if you let this consume you, it is a stressful job. When you’re winning, it’s fun, but when stuff is not going well, that’s when it can start to pile up. You need that stuff to kind of lean on.
You played in a couple different offenses, right? You had Dallas, I think you were here with (Adam) Gase for a minute, and now Mike (LaFleur). Is there something about this scheme that tends to fit your play style at all?
I like all three offenses that I’ve been in now. One thing I do like about this one is that I do think it gives the quarterback a little more freedom as far as it’s not your job to do a lot protection wise. There’s some little things that we can do here and there, but for the most part, the protection is the protection. As a quarterback, that’s awesome because when you go to the line, you get to, ‘Alright, what’s the coverage?’ I’m not too worried about the protection. I know my issues, but what’s the coverage, and you get to just go out there and distribute the ball. I think for whatever reason it is, playing in this offense, something clicked, and I see it pretty well and I feel like I see it pretty well and I have confidence. Going back on something I’ve said countless times to you guys, I think confidence does wonders, and I’m guessing that’s what it was and having success, too, always helps.
It’s pretty clear that your teammates just like you. I’m just wondering as a quarterback and as a leader, do you think it’s part of your job and responsibility to connect with your teammates on both sides of the ball and also inspire them to rally around you?
Yeah, I think that’s the best part of about football is the comradery of it and then the locker room and hanging out with the guys. I mean not a lot of people get to go to work and just hang out and play a sport for a living, so, while I’m doing it, I know I’m going to try to do my best to get to know everybody, enjoy it, mess around with them, talk some crap on the football field, and then come out in here and maybe play some dominos, play cards, and hang out with them. I just genuinely enjoy that part, and then I think when you develop relationships that way and then you go out on the field and that just kind of comes to life and then you can build upon it that way.
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