OAKLAND, Calif. — Josh McCown is not a good NFL quarterback. Exhibit A: His record since 2014 is 2-22. The prosecution rests.
But in the context of this peculiar Jets season, in which winning is not the only thing — and perhaps is not anything — he is the right man in the right job at the right time.
In the absence of a young quarterback ready to step in, the Jets needed a veteran functional enough to allow other players to develop, positive enough to keep everyone focused and realistic enough not to pout when his role changes.
Check, check, check.
At 38, McCown has played for an astounding 10 NFL teams — plus the UFL’s Hartford Colonials — and after watching him play and listening to him talk, it is evident how that has happened.
He is not the guy you want as your franchise quarterback, but he knows what he is doing on a football field and most certainly is a guy you want in your locker room.
In Sunday’s 45-20 loss to the Raiders, McCown fumbled to set up an Oakland touchdown, but he completed a pair of lovely scoring passes to Jermaine Kearse and was 17-for-25 for 166 yards.
Nothing flashy, and not enough to win, as usual. But again: There is a difference in between not good and not functional, and McCown at least passes the test on the latter.
The dude even moves well for an old-timer. On a third-and-18 from the Oakland 48-yard line, he scrambled up the middle for 22 yards before sliding to the ground.
Almost the entire run was on the baseball infield dirt at ancient Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, one of his many former home fields.
“I wasn’t much of a base stealer in Little League, and there I was on dirt and I figured when you get on dirt it’s a little bit different surface, so something had to be up for me to be running that far,” he said later.
“They preach about sliding, sliding, sliding and it was the business decision of are you taking three more steps and maybe getting hit but not have to slide in this dirt or slide in the dirt. I slid in the dirt and got all scraped up. But it’s part of it. It is what it is.
“It’s a cool part having played here, and part of the history of the stadium.”
Look, if McCown is the starter in Week 17, it will be an upset — and an absurdity. If he is the starting quarterback on opening day in 2018 . . . well, that’s not happening.
But for now, in Week 3, he is just right.
Lacking much else to ask, for the second Sunday in a row I wondered whether McCown feels added pressure to remain positive given what he sees around him.
“Yeah, I think so, because this thing’s hard,” he said. “Every week you go in, put everything you can into a game plan . . . If it doesn’t go your way, man, that can be really deflating. So [it is important] for guys to understand, especially the young guys as they build their careers, how you go about it, regardless of what happens.”
He mentioned the heavy video work and self-analysis required to get better at this level.
“That’s the idea with these young guys — all of us,” he said. “Hopefully over time when you trust that process and you keep building into that you have a chance that you look up one day and put together a good team.”
Soon Mr. Positivity was making his way to the bus but first had to excuse himself to pass a group waiting for an elevator. He touched my arm as he walked by and said, “Good question!”