ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Josh McCown made his not so eagerly anticipated debut as the Jets’ quarterback Sunday, and the results were predictable: a 21-12 loss to the Bills, dropping his record to 2-21 as a starter since 2014.
He finished 26-for-39 for 187 yards, no touchdowns passing — but one rushing — and two interceptions, for a passer rating of 56.2. Normally, such an outing would be cause for alarm and consternation, but this is not a normal situation, because the 38-year-old’s mission is understood to be that of a caretaker until . . . well, until something else happens.
Asked how he thought McCown did, coach Todd Bowles said: “He did OK . . . We have to give him some more help.”
Fair enough. The running game mostly was useless and the patchwork receiving corps did not scare anyone. But McCown did not wow anyone, either. Thanks to an early “attack” that featured short passes, he completed 10 of his first 11 attempts, but those 10 plays covered a total of 69 yards.
McCown said the idea was to establish a short passing game, then hit the Bills with some deep stuff, especially to Robby Anderson. But the Bills anticipated that and would have none of it.
“We had a couple of things that we thought we were going to get behind them on, but they were committed,” McCown said. “They have young corners and new corners and they were committed to not giving up the deep ball.”
McCown said that to have any chance moving forward, the Jets must stay out of third-and-long situations, which starts with running the ball more effectively.
“We’ve got to stay on the field,” he said. “In order to do that, you have to be in manageable situations.”
The Jets’ only touchdown came on McCown’s 1-yard sneak on a fourth down in the third quarter that got the Jets within 14-12.
McCown said he was pleased, given the roster flux of recent weeks, how well everyone worked with one another, avoiding telltale signs of confusion such as delay-of-game penalties.
He praised tight end Will Tye, the former Giant and former Stony Brook player whom the Jets claimed on waivers a week earlier. Tye made three catches for 34 yards, filling in when Eric Tomlinson suffered an injury.
“E.T. got banged up a little bit, so it pushed Will into a different role,” McCown said. “That’s what we talked about early this week when you (reporters) asked for the keys. It was just managing that.”
Truth be told, McCown was not given the starting job to win consistently so much as he was given it to provide stability, professionalism and leadership during what figures to be a rocky period for the offense. McCown filled that role after the game, assuring all concerned that he would make sure his young teammates do not get down on themselves even if the rest of the world gets down on them.
“I’ll say it again: I know from y’all’s perspective and when you look from the outside in, there’s a narrative that you feel about this team,” he said.
“When you’re in it and when you’re competing, you don’t feel that. That’s not how we approach it, and so we’re disappointed, absolutely, but we plan on responding.”