PHOENIX – Even if Josh McCown doesn’t end up winning the Jets’ starting quarterback job, he’ll still prove to be a valuable asset in the 2017 season. So says Browns coach Hue Jackson, who believes the Jets not only are getting a solid player in McCown, but a terrific locker room leader.
“They are getting, first of all, a tremendous locker room guy and person,” said Jackson, who coached McCown last season in Cleveland. “Great character. He’s a tremendous leader. Josh knows how to play the game. If they need him to help a younger guy, he’s going to do that extremely well. If they need him to play, he’ll step out there and play.”
Jackson offered glowing praise of the 37-year-old McCown, this despite the fact that the Browns opted not to retain the veteran quarterback. But the Browns clearly are targeting a young quarterback, whether it’s in the draft or perhaps Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo, so McCown didn’t figure into their future plans.
The Jets signed McCown to a one-year, $6 million deal, and while coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday that there will be an open quarterback competition in training camp, McCown will at least have the early advantage over Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. The Jets also are closely studying this year’s draft-eligible quarterbacks, but even if they did take another passer in the early rounds, McCown still would have the clearest path to become the starter.
McCown is just 2-20 over his last three seasons, including a combined 1-10 in two seasons with the Browns. Jackson, hired by the Browns last season, went with Robert Griffin III as his starter going into last season, but Griffin was injured in the first game. McCown wound up playing in five games and went 0-3 as a starter, suffering a broken collarbone on Sept. 23. He returned on Oct. 30, but started only two more games the rest of the season.
“Last year, to me, wasn’t even close to what Josh can be as a quarterback,” Jackson said. “I still think there’s something in there.”
Jackson approached McCown about becoming a Browns’ assistant coach. And although McCown expressed a desire to continue playing, Jackson believes he would make a terrific NFL coach down the road.
“I’ve watched him do a good job of mentoring the young quarterbacks we had on our team, from Robert (Griffin) all the way down to Kevin Hogan,” Jackson said. “I thought he did a great job. Here’s a guy that knows our system, loves football. I don’t think he was ready to give up football. He loves to compete, loves being with the guys, preparing and doing those things. That’s who he is. But some day, he’ll hopefully coach in this league, and I think he’ll do a great job.”