Turning the page from a Thanksgiving victory against the New England Patriots, Kevin O’Connell’s Minnesota Vikings face a familiar test in the New York Jets. Rounding out their tour of the AFC East, yet another backup will take the field against Ed Donatell’s defense.
Although the New York Jets used a first-round pick on Zach Wilson, he’s become much more famous for his fandom of moms than his play on the field to this point. Robert Saleh benched him before last week’s matchup against the Chicago Bears, and backup Mike White went off.
In seven starts this season for the Jets, Wilson is 5-2, but that’s primarily a byproduct of the talent surrounding him. He has thrown just four touchdowns while being picked off five times. He has an awful 55.6% completion rate and averages just over 180 yards per game. Although the Jets aren’t ripe with skill position players, Wilson has proven unable to get them the ball regardless.
White was drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He never played a game for Dallas and emerged with New York last season. Saleh turned to White for the first time this year last week. Although his opponent was a bad Chicago Bears team starting former Vikings backup Trevor Siemian, White threw for 315 yards with three touchdowns. He was nearly flawless on the day, completing 22 of 28 passes and earning a 149.3 quarterback rating.
Minnesota can’t boast a substantially better defense than Chicago, but they will hope to control gameflow through their offense. Like the scenario they faced against New England on Thanksgiving night, O’Connell should seek to work through a very familiar gameplan.
Facing a backup is not new for Minnesota this season. They beat Andy Dalton and the Saints in England. Skylar Thompson started before being relieved by Teddy Bridgewater in the victory over the Dolphins. Taylor Heinecke started for Washington after Carson Wentz was benched, and it’s anyone’s guess who deserves to start for New England. Either way, the Vikings haven’t lost to a backup yet this year, and starting now doesn’t seem to be a great plan.
It’s probably a stiffer test for Minnesota to face a quarterback playing free of expectations and looking to make their mark. Wilson has proven he needs to sit and figure things out, both on and off the field. The Vikings will have a longer week to watch film on White, and they’ll look to avoid the same fate as Chicago on Sunday.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.