Nothing that happened at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night is likely to make Jets fans feel better about the team’s prospects. But at least nothing happened to make them feel worse — assuming that is possible.
After an injury scare for Josh McCown early in the preseason finale against the Eagles, the quarterback ran back onto the field, got in some needed work in advance of next week’s opener and emerged intact. Thus did the Jets fulfill the minimum requirement for the evening, with the bonus of a 16-10 victory and record of 2-2 for the preseason.
McCown later said he merely had the wind knocked out of him by the Eagles’ Joe Walker and that he took a knee before leaving the field mostly to give Christian Hackenberg a chance to warm up.
“He just caught me right in a bad spot,” McCown said of Walker. “Thankfully, that was it.”
Was Todd Bowles concerned when he saw his starter go down?
“You don’t like the quarterback getting hit, but football is football, whether it’s Week 1 [of the regular season] or Week 4 of preseason,’’ he said. “You get hurt, you get hurt. That’s kind of the game we play.”
After playing only one series in the first three games, McCown was given two with the starting offense and finished 6-for-8 for 57 yards, one three-and-out drive and a second drive that resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro.
“The main thing for us was to go out there with that unit and just play with tempo,” McCown said.
That was the mostly good- news portion of the night for Jets fans. Hackenberg’s outing was more of the same after an ineffective game against the Giants last week. The second-year pro showed few signs of being ready to take over soon.
On his second drive, he took advantage of a 34-yard run by Elijah McGuire deep into Philadelphia territory by completing a nifty 12-yard touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins against tight coverage by the Eagles’ Don Cherry. That made it 10-3 with 9:04 left in the half.
The Jets added a field goal on their next possession to make it 13-3, but in one stretch, Hackenberg helmed five consecutive three-and-outs. The Jets’ last 12 possessions produced a total of two first downs.
Bowles said he would have to study the video before analyzing Hackenberg’s play and added that he does not know who his backup will be. Bryce Petty did not play after coaches decided in warmups that his injured knee was not ready.
What did Bowles think of Hackenberg’s preseason overall?
“It was up and down,” he said.
Said Hackenberg: “I thought tonight was good. There’s some stuff that we obviously have to get better at and look at. It was good to get as many reps as I did. I think that really helped. I feel like I’ve learned a lot.”
He completed 10 of 22 passes for 105 yards and the one touchdown.
The Jets seemingly had the game in hand with a 16-10 lead, but a bungled exchange between Hackenberg and Marcus Murphy gave the Eagles the ball at the Jets’ 33-yard line with 1:55 left.
The Eagles had a first-and-goal at the 3, but they lost 3 yards on a run, threw incomplete and were sacked for a loss of 2. Rookie Dane Evans threw incomplete into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 8 with four seconds left.
It was an exciting end to a mostly dreary night. The Jets will get their first chance to prove the season will be less dreary than expected at Buffalo a week from Sunday.