In case anyone was wondering whether the Jets would face a quarterback controversy if Josh McCown lit it up on Sunday in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold, their feeble offense performed as disastrously as the defense played in a 41-10 loss to Buffalo at MetLife Stadium.
McCown, making his first start of the season with Darnold sidelined with a right foot injury, threw for only 135 yards with two interceptions and a 35.8 quarterback rating. The Jets lost their fourth straight game and fell to 3-7 entering the bye week.
“A quarterback touches the ball every snap and I hold myself to a high standard, so when you go out there and you don’t win, you have to look at it very critically and ask yourself what you can do better,” McCown said. “The execution was the key today, and we did not do that.”
Darnold, the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has endured the typical ups and downs during his first professional season out of USC.
McCown, 39, was re-signed to a one-year, $10-million contract during the offseason to provide valuable leadership and an experienced understudy for the Jets to turn to if needed. But he had few answers Sunday.
McCown led the Jets to three consecutive three-and-outs to open the game. In terms of total yardage, they were outgained 186-1 in the first quarter and 313-68 in the first half in falling behind 31-3.
“After [this] game, I’m not satisfied with anything. Everybody played bad. Everybody coached bad,” Todd Bowles said when asked specifically about McCown.
“I thought the week of work was excellent. The energy this week was excellent. To come out and not take it out to the game Sunday is just very disappointing,” McCown said. “Each man has to look at himself and figure out what he can do better to help this not happen. It’s not acceptable.”
Third-string quarterback Davis Webb was activated from the practice squad for the first time this season, but Bowles said he didn’t consider putting the former Giant in the game.
Throughout last week, Bowles stressed that Darnold will regain the starting job once he’s healthy and able to play, possibly as soon as Nov. 25 against New England.
McCown’s ineffective performance should leave no doubt. The 16-year veteran was sacked three times by the Bills (3-7) and was badly outplayed by Matt Barkley, who threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start since 2016.
“Very frustrating. Division foe or not, when you come out and play like that, it’s frustrating,” McCown said. “It’s never the expectation. It’s disappointing. I thought Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was one of our best weeks of preparation, the energy was great, but it didn’t translate to Sunday. We’ve got to figure that out and it’s on us as players to get that done.”