Mike White met with the media on Wednesday and discussed his reaction to being named the starter. It helps having the full week to prepare, it helps that he had on field experience from last year. White also spoke about his journey, from being drafted to spending time on the practice squad and now being named a starter. Learning from past experiences is the key for Mike. The journey has shaped him into the player he is today.
Here is the full transcript.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Mike, what was your reaction when you got the news?
Initially, just excited. It’s just what every player in this locker room wants, is a chance to compete and prove themselves, but more importantly it’s just a chance to be a good teammate and help the team and worry about the team first.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: How did you get the news?
Coach called me yesterday and just let us all know, it kind of is what it is.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: What’s going through your head now, once you find that out and then you have to look forward to Sunday as the starter? How does it change your mindset, I guess?
Like I’ve said countless times before, when you’re the backup, you have to prepare like the starter because the moment you don’t is the moment you get thrusted in there and things can’t go your way if you’re not prepared so truthfully, keeping the same process, focusing on the Bears, and helping this offense move the ball, score points, and win games.
Andy Vasquez, NJ.com: How much does being in this position last year help you doing it this time around? How much more comfortable do you feel?
It does help. The experience of getting game reps in and getting a week, couple weeks as a starter knowing how those things work and I think it helps too, stepping into the huddle, the guys in the huddle know that I have that experience and can respect that. So, I think that’s what the only real difference is, but besides that it’s, like I said earlier, it’s no real different than how I walked in the facility last week.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Obviously, that last start you had last year probably didn’t go the way you wanted, how much do you feel like you’ve grown since that game and how much do you use that film in the offseason?
Oh man, so much. Just like any other player in this locker room. If you turn on clips from whatever week that was last year, everyone is a completely different player, but like you said, you’ve got to learn from it. If you don’t learn from it, that’s where it can hinder you, so I promise I have learned from it and took the good and the bad and worked on the bad and build on the good and move forward.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: You’ve had an interesting journey, obviously getting drafted by the Cowboys and then coming here and being practice squad, active roster, just kind of reflect on that and just what this opportunity does mean to you?
Every year just seems to be something different and then I feel like that’s just the role of a backup quarterback and you get your opportunities and you’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities and that’s how you kind of elongate your career, but yeah, when you look back on it, it’s been a crazy up and down ride, but I’m thankful for everything because I think it’s helped shape me into the player I am now and given me the experiences to kind of look back on and learn from and build off of.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Does it mean even more this time? Like last year you came in because of an injury, now you’re coming in for performance reasons and because you guys are in a position to make a run? Does it mean anything more to this one?
Any time you step in the huddle as a quarterback and you have grown men looking at, like it means something to me, whether we’re 0-16 or if we’re fighting for a playoff spot, me personally, it means something to me and making it about the guys in this locker room and that’s really all I’m focused on. I’m focused on the Bears and focused on performing well enough for these guys in the locker room and help give us all a fighting chance to win ball games.
Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Obviously, you got the chance last year, but just a couple weeks ago you were at third on the depth chart, did you ever wonder if this opportunity was going to come again?
Yeah, I did. I didn’t know when or how or why, but whether it was this year, two years down the road, it’s going to happen, and like I said earlier, I’ve learned from countless older guys, the moment you’re not ready is when it passes you by and you’re out. So, I’ve done now, I’m not going to say I was perfect in those, you go through those mental battles and you’ve got to pick yourself back up and focus, so I wouldn’t say I was perfect on it, but for the most part, you got to stay ready because when your moment does come and if you let it pass by you’re going to look back on it and be frustrated with it.
Joe Mauceri, WPIX: You mentioned the growth and improvement you’ve seen on the team as a whole, with this offense now, what are you excited about getting to go out there and utilize and perform with this current offense?
Yeah, I think there’s definitely some new players, obviously Garrett (Wilson) and C.J. (Uzomah), and (Tyler) Conklin, and Laken (Tomlinson), Duane (Brown), there’s new people, but same system, same core so I’m excited. Anytime I’m able to go out there and play, I’m going to be excited. I wouldn’t say it’s so much of who’s on the field, it’s just the fact of being on the field.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Did getting bumped up to number two a few weeks ago have a tangible effect on you? Like did you get more out of that being at two, or at practice reps to be ready for this moment? What did that mean exactly?
The only difference really is that you know you dress on gameday, so you know if something happens, you’re the one that’s going in, whereas if you’re the third inactive you really have no shot of going in because you’re inactive, so I would say that’s the only thing that changed. My process, the reps in practice, the order might have changed, but the amount is still the same, so I would say that’s the only real difference.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: On a personal level, you obviously spend a lot of time with Zach beyond who’s starting, who’s not, what has it been like as his teammate these last few days trying to support him with all he’s been going through?
Oh yeah, I’m friends with Zach Wilson first, teammates second. He’s a great teammate, he’s a great dude, and it’s just this whole time, this situation is just showing that even more so. He’s been super supportive, it’s been the same guy, and I think that shows the type of dude and type of teammate he is. And we’d expect nothing less from him, that’s just kind of who he is, it’s what we’ve known to know him as, going over this past year and a half or whatever it is, but yeah, no surprise from that. He’s been the same dude, same supportive guy, and I thank him for that.
Joe Mauceri, WPIX: You’ve had fans who were calling your name, cheering for you to go in the game, what do you say to those who’ve been supporting you throughout?
You’re always thankful for the support, but try to keep it within this locker room and that’s really the, 60 some odd guys in here and those are the opinions that I really, truly care about. Not that I don’t care about everybody else’s, and I appreciate the support, that’s not what I’m saying, but yeah, once you start to get out of this locker room, you can get down rabbit holes and let your mind wander and you kind of become unfocused, so that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on is staying locked into what’s going on in this building and leave the outside building for my wife and kids.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Given that people are expecting you to come in and help this offense, do you have to kind of fight that urge to be a “savior” where this offense has struggled, now you’re coming in to spark the offense?
Right, I think anytime whenever -football’s the ultimate team sport, right? So whatever you’re going through as an offense a struggle, if, it could be the quarterback, it could be the running back, whenever you feel as if you need to solve the worlds problems, I think that’s when you can get into a world of trouble because it is the ultimate team sport and you need all 11 guys on the field to do their job, so if you start to play hero ball, I think that’s when things can go wrong. So, I don’t believe that in any way, I’m just going to go out there and execute the game plan as coached and as talked about throughout the week and do it to the best of my ability and fight like hell for my guys out there.