Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.

Let’s give Todd Bowles the benefit of the doubt and assume he has not lost his football mind.

That he is not, as WFAN host Craig Carton called him in a vitriolic, six-minute monologue first thing Tuesday morning, “an incompetent zealot,” “a failure,” “a moron” and “a stoic, mumbling incompetent leader of men.”

That he still is the guy who through 15 games in his rookie season of 2015 looked like a coaching find for the Jets.

Here’s the problem: It would be BETTER for the Jets if all of the above were true. Incompetent coaches and GMs can be replaced easily enough. Franchise quarterbacks are far more difficult to come by.

So the scarier take is that Bowles, who unlike the rest of us gets to watch practice, knows exactly what he is doing.

That would mean that Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are the “incompetent” ones, not the coach, who continues to stick with soon-to-be-former-Jet Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starter.

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And if that is the case, oy vey. Just cut everybody and start over.

Because if Petty, a 25-year-old man who threw for 62 TDs and 10 interceptions at a major program such as Baylor and started an NFL game this very month is not worthy of the nod in a so-what game against the Colts . . . that’s not good.

And if Hackenberg, a second-round draft selection in a league where a 10-1 team is being quarterbacked by a rookie fourth-round pick, is not good enough even to be handed a uniform . . . that’s not good, either.

All of this leaves ticketholders for Monday faced with attending a weeknight game in December to watch nothing of importance, and tens of thousands figure to stay home or unload their ducats for peanuts on the resale market.

Poor ESPN has to show up – part of a $1.9 billion-a-season deal with the NFL that looks worse by the week – because there is no flexing out of Monday night matchups.

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If Colts-Jets were on the Sunday night slate, the NFL and NBC would have flexed it to a 9:30 a.m. start in Budapest by now.

Anyway, back to the quarterback quandary.

What the heck is Petty doing in practice to keep him planted on the bench? Calling out signals in Portuguese? Kicking the football instead of throwing it? Giving the center noogies? What?!

“We get looks at them every day,” Bowles said of his young quarterbacks. “As a coach, you weigh trying to win ball games first and there’s a time and place that those guys will get a chance to play. It just won’t be next week.”

Why? Please, in the name of Broadway Joe, explain it to us, Mr. Coach, sir.

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Sure, football is a treacherous, emotional sport, and coaches must be careful not to frustrate or endanger players by deploying an unprepared quarterback.

But again: Petty is not a kid, and already has proven he can at least function in a regular-season NFL game.

This is part of the process in any profession.

In November of 1982 Newsday dispatched me to cover an East Islip vs. Northport football playoff game – my first bylined article for my hometown paper.

I returned with a first paragraph that referenced an “immovable object” (East Islip’s defense) facing – briefly, as it turned out – an “irresistible force” (Northport’s offense).

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In other words, the ultimate sportswriting cliché. But I survived and advanced, and here we are, 34 years later. (East Islip beat my alma mater, 25-3, alas, with our only points coming on a field goal by Garo Yepremian’s nephew, Sarko. But that’s another story.)

The Colts defense is among the worst in the NFL. Give Petty a chance. He does not have to be an irresistible force against Indy’s moveable object. He just has to show us whether or not there is some hope for him.

Unless Coach Bowles knows something we don’t know. That would be worse.