The Jets are playing a curious and potentially dangerous game with Josh McCown and their offense, which has the potential to be historically anemic this season with the rampant uncertainty at quarterback and as many competent skill position players in their building as there are Lombardi Trophies (that would be one).
Coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator John Morton are treating McCown, the 38-year-old journeyman quarterback, like an accomplished veteran whom they can fit seamlessly into their scheme with hardly any preseason game prep work with the rest of the starters.
They’re treating McCown as if they’re going to be able to insert him into the starting lineup for the team’s regular-season opener against the Bills in Orchard Park, simply press “play’’ and get Tom Brady results.
No disrespect intended toward McCown, who’s a classy, mature, team player, but are Bowles and Morton unaware McCown owns an 18-42 career record as an NFL starter, and he is 2-20 over the last three years?
McCown took just three snaps with the first-team offense in practice Tuesday during 11-on-11 drills. He completed passes to running back Matt Forte (their one accomplished skill position player), receiver Charone Peake and receiver Chad Hansen.
McCown did more wind sprints off to the side of the field on his own than he took snaps in 11-on-11s.
Christian Hackenberg, who’s coming off his dreadful preseason starting debut Saturday in Detroit (2-for-6 for 14 yards, two sacks for losses of 17 yards), took 11 snaps Tuesday with the first team in 11-on-11s and Bryce Petty, thought to be the third wheel in this so-called quarterback competition, took nine.
Why, with the third preseason game Saturday night, against the Giants at MetLife Stadium, four days away would McCown not be getting more reps with the first team since he’s the presumed starter — for the Giants game and for the regular-season opener?
The third preseason game, after all, is the one that most mirrors a regular-season game in terms of how many starters play and how long they go.
“We’re just evening the reps out,’’ Bowles said after practice. “[McCown] got a lot of reps early [in training camp]. McCown knows what he’s doing. He can play, so we’re trying to give the other guys some experience and some reps.’’
Asked whether it would be beneficial to get McCown more extended reps if he’s going to be the starter, Bowles said, “If he’s the starting quarterback, yeah.’’
Asked if McCown may get more reps with the first team in practice Wednesday, Bowles said, “It’s possible. We’ll see.’’
This coy quarterback game Bowles has been playing all summer has become a bit tired — particularly as it’s become increasingly obvious Hackenberg isn’t ready, and they have little interest in Petty winning the job. This has become like watching a movie while already knowing the ending, yet you mindlessly continue to watch it.
Surely, if they’re even paying attention up in Foxborough, Mass., the Patriots are not exactly waiting with bated breath to see whom the Jets start at quarterback.
To be fair, Bowles should be cut some slack regarding his Tuesday quarterback rotation if McCown’s reps increase Wednesday. But his insistence on keeping the reps even among the three quarterbacks this summer seems to have become somewhat unnecessary. And, it feels like Bowles has become caught in a no-man’s land between getting McCown ready for the real season and desperately giving Hackenberg every opportunity to win the job.
McCown, who was banned from speaking to reporters after the preseason loss Saturday night to the Lions, in which he didn’t play (an embarrassing, sophomoric display of paranoia from the team), told reporters Monday he’d “like to be out there, yes, but I understand the reasoning behind it.’’
McCown has played just one series in the first two preseason games, which is not enough for a player new to the team and one who’s not exactly considered one of the league’s elite.
Bowles seems so married to keeping the reps even among the three it’s like he’s concerned about being sued by one of them for failing to keep a promise.
He sounded a bit bemused by the fuss over McCown’s reps on Tuesday when he chided reporters, saying, “He got reps the whole first half of camp and you guys were complaining that he got too many. Now you’re complaining that he’s getting too few. What do you want me to do? He’ll be fine.’’
When it was suggested that there must be a “happy medium,’’ Bowles said, “There is, and I’m taking care of that.’’
There was a hint of arrogance in Bowles’ tone with that last comment, as if to say, “I know what I’m doing here.’’
For the sake of Jets fans, hopefully he does.
This News Credit Goes To >> Source link