CBS has a contractual duty to carry most Jets games this season, which presumably will not make for a ratings hit. But Todd Bowles at least can count on early support from the network’s analysts for his first big decision.
They agreed Wednesday at CBS’ annual preseason media lunch that going with 38-year-old Josh McCown at quarterback for the opener at Buffalo was the least-bad option.
“Absolutely, yes,” Phil Simms said when asked whether he endorsed going with McCown over Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty.
“Because he gives them the best chance to win — period,” Simms said. “I love this (outsiders’ sentiment), ‘Oh, let’s throw the season!’ Yeah, Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan and Jets players have no pride. Let’s just throw the season because we know one of these (college) quarterbacks out there is going to turn the franchise right around. That irritates me.
“You have to remember, if you’re a head coach, your record stays with you your whole life. Every damn game means everything to you . . . If (the young quarterbacks) deserved to start, they’d be starting. (McCown) will give the Jets at least a chance to see what they’ve got (in other players).”
Said Simms’ fellow studio analyst, Bill Cowher: “You have to start the quarterback that gives you the best chance to win. Contrary to what people are thinking — play the young guys; who cares if we lose?; if we lose, it may be better because you get a higher (draft) pick — right now Todd Bowles has to create a culture of winning, and that’s the most important thing.
“McCown is a veteran guy. (Hackenberg) can learn from him. He can watch him.”
Rich Gannon will get first crack at talking about McCown in the regular season, as CBS’ analyst at Buffalo. He is on board, too.
“I applaud the decision to give the young guys a lot of reps in the preseason,” Gannon said. “You have to evaluate what you have there. But I think they went out and got a guy in Josh who’s a veteran . . . I think he has some real toughness to him. He’s a smart guy, a good leader. He’ll be good for the development of the young quarterbacks.
“A lot of fans say, ‘Oh, it’s time to go with the young quarterback.’ But it’s not just whether the young quarterback is ready, it’s is the team ready for a young quarterback? In my opinion, the Jets are not ready for a young quarterback. They have to create some stability around them.”
Studio analyst Boomer Esiason said, “You go to the veteran, the experience, he calms the huddle down. He will be able to communicate and gives them the proverbial best chance to win right now. It is what it is, and it’s nothing else but that. It’s going to be a long year.”
Tony Romo, CBS’ new lead game analyst, said the Jets were among the teams he considered after last season before opting to retire. Does he think they can be less bad than widely predicted?
“They can be less bad,” he said, smiling.
“I think everyone wants the quarterback of the future,’’ Romo said. “But to that team and that head coach, they’re really just looking at how do we win our first game? And that’s in the best interests of the team . . . It’s a good thing for them to send the message to everyone that we’re trying to win Week 1, and this season.”