FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Josh McCown has his fair share of grisly tales from the gridiron, so excuse him if he’s not gnashing his teeth after three straight losses.
“No, heck no,” he said energetically when asked if he was down. “Shoot, this is part of it. It’s unfortunate. Nobody writes it up like this. You don’t want to lose three in a row, but it’s a great opportunity to go play Thursday night. I’m excited.”
On Monday, McCown gave a brief nod to his time on the Browns, when, this time last year, “it wasn’t looking very good.” Cleveland went 1-15, going winless until Week 16. He’s managed to all but erase the memory of his 2-20 record as a starter the previous three seasons, though that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. By comparison, this year is downright rosy. As far as he sees it, hope is not lost. At least not yet.
As the Jets (3-5) enter Week 9 with a divisional matchup against the Bills, it’s become eminently clear that McCown has done everything the Jets could have asked of him. The three wins were somewhat unexpected, but McCown’s steadfast optimism in the face of difficulty might as well be the opening line on his resume. With a locker room full of youth, and the seams starting to show after back-to-back busts in the fourth quarter, McCown took on the mantle of cheerleader and life coach.
Even when he was asked about Matt Forte — the running back had strong words for offensive coordinator John Morton’s play-calling Sunday — McCown looked on the bright side.
“When you lose, everyone has something they want to do better and different,” he said. “We learn from it, we move forward. In a short week, it’s kind of, I think, important more than anything to put that to bed and move forward. We’ve got to get our eyes on Buffalo and get ready to go.”
The Jets’ challenges this week are many. The short turnaround means their legion of wounded has less time than usual to recover. They’re in a free-fall and will face a team that’s been far better than expected. The Bills (5-2) made a big statement Sunday, scoring 34 against the Raiders, and already beat the Jets in Week 1. The Jets’ defensive line has been lacking, and Todd Bowles could not commit to whether Muhammad Wilkerson would be able to play Thursday.
So this is about as much a must-win as the Jets have had. Though by being in this position this late in the season, it means the Jets already have exceeded preseason expectations.
“They all are (must wins),” McCown said. “I say it every week. We see, really this year more than anything, how week to week things change in this league. At one point, one team is the toast and two weeks later, things change, so we know the most important thing for us is to just get this next one, get back on track.”
McCown said he was pleased with the team’s walk-through Monday, and what the players got from reviewing the tape. Hey, this time last year, his team was winless. This? This qualified as “a good situation.
“It’s not ideal,” he added. “But we can dig ourselves out of it. I’m not down at all, just excited for the challenge.”