With the Giants making a change at quarterback, the other NFL team in town is nowhere near doing that.
Josh McCown remains the starter for the Jets until further notice, Todd Bowles said twice this week. He confirmed McCown will keep that job in a Monday conference call. On ESPN’s Michael Kay Show, Bowles was asked if backups Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg could get some playing time in any part of a game.
“Not at this time, no,” Bowles said.
McCown has made 11 starts, two away from tying his career high in 2004 with Arizona. He’s also set career highs in completions (235), completion percentage (67.3), passing yards (2,549) and touchdowns (17). He’s fifth in the NFL in completion percentage and has completed more passes than playoff-bound MVP candidate Carson Wentz of the Eagles.
Now this isn’t to say McCown is moving to elite status. He’s done an excellent job of completing passes underneath and protecting the football by not throwing into double coverage. He does make mistakes, though. He has thrown eight interceptions and committed a costly fourth-quarter fumble in Sunday’s loss to the Panthers.
“We’ve just got to execute better,” McCown said. “I wish I had held onto that ball on the fumble, just hate it.”
But for what the Jets need from their quarterback, he’s near perfect. It’s also an indictment of Petty and Hackenberg.
Petty, the No. 2 quarterback, was a 2015 fourth-round draft pick. He’s played in only six career games. Hackenberg, a 2016 second-round pick, has yet to play in a regular-season game. There is a belief that one of them will play this season, but with the Jets still mathematically alive for a wild card, Bowles isn’t trying to rush the process.
Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said both young quarterbacks have grown but are just not ready to play at the NFL level.
Earlier this season, Bowles was asked about moving on from McCown. He said he’d seen what Hackenberg and Petty could do over the summer and that he knew who his quarterback was. In training camp practices and four preseason games, the Jets tried to give the starting job to one of the backups. When neither could win the job, the Jets stayed with the 38-year-old McCown, and he’s played well.
The Jets were projected for one of the top 2018 draft picks. With a 4-7 record, the Jets are hovering outside the top 10 in terms of where they may select next spring. Playing competitively has kept their slim playoff hopes alive, and McCown is one of the major reasons why.
“We still have something to play for,” he said. “All of that has not been settled yet. But the main thing is what you have to find as a person and as a player in this league, the character and integrity you’re going to go about your work every week and why you do it.”