The New York Jets have no shortage of viable options when it comes to a starting quarterback. But Josh McCown should be the Week 1 starter and here are the top three reasons why.
The New York Jets quarterback controversy is far from a controversy. With Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Darnold all on the roster, the Jets are loaded with talent at the quarterback position. A problem the Jets are not used to having.
Amidst all the preseason action, the battle for the starting job continues to heat up. Despite impressive outings from both Bridgewater and Darnold throughout training camp, let’s look at the top three reasons McCown should start under center when the Jets open up the regular season in Detroit on September 10th.
3. He’s a seasoned veteran
In addition to coming off one of the best years of his career, McCown is entering his 16th NFL season.
During the 2017 season, McCown threw for career highs in touchdowns (19) and yards (2,926) while also producing his second-best QBR (94.5). This is in addition to only throwing nine interceptions.
He led the Jets to a 5-11 record, which still landed them at the bottom the AFC East. But when you consider the fact that at the beginning of the season the Jets were ranked last in the NFL Power Rankings, behind the Cleveland Browns, that’s a surprisingly good outcome compared to preseason expectations.
McCown’s status as a leader of the team is unquestioned. He has the respect of everyone in the locker room. He knows he’s serving as the placeholder until Darnold is ready to take the reigns and he has dealt with that situation with as much grace as you could expect from someone in that situation.
I’m not saying the team doesn’t respect Bridgewater or Darnold. But the fact of the matter is McCown has been with the organization longer and you know for a fact the team will rally behind him if he’s under center.
Next: 2. Gives Jets the best chance to win
2. Gives Jets the best chance to win
McCown has proven success running the Jets offense and gives them the best chance to win come Week 1.
McCown’s experience and familiarity with the Jets’ offense gives him a clear advantage over Bridgewater and Darnold. McCown isn’t an elite quarterback by any means but he’s proven more than Bridgewater who is coming off a major knee injury, and Darnold who has yet to take a snap in a regular season.game
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You can’t underestimate the chemistry he’s already established with the Jets’ receiving corps either. Last season, McCown established a good connection with wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse who are expected to play a big role on offense this upcoming season.
Those within and around the Jets organization have been impressed with Darnold throughout training camp. He’s shown great poise and has continued to improve from week to week.
But the Darnold hype train slowed down this week after the rookie got his first look at a first string defense. The Jets suffered a 15-13 loss to the Washington Redskins where Darnold was less than stellar.
McCown has proven he can win games in the NFL and the Jets still don’t completely trust Darnold when it comes to running the offense. At least not yet.
Next: 1. Weakness of offensive line
1. Weakness of the offensive line
You don’t want to risk Darnold’s future or Bridgewater’s trade value by playing them behind this offensive line.
Starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum and right guard Brian Winters are injured. They are expected to be back by the regular season but even if they are the Jets lack depth on the offensive line. And this weakness was highlighted in Thursday’s loss to the Washington Redskins.
It’s obvious that Darnold is the future of the Jets. For him to develop into the superstar quarterback they hope he can be, he has to be healthy.
In Thursday’s preseason action against the Redskins, Darnold was under duress almost every time he dropped back to throw. If I were Todd Bowles, I wouldn’t want to risk the future of my franchise quarterback, the one you traded up to No. 3 to get, behind this offensive line.
Bridgewater signed an inexpensive one-year, $5 million contract and many people think he will be used as trade bait sometime this season. It’s easy to forget that at one point Bridgewater was the franchise quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. He led them to an 11-5 record and an NFC North Division title in 2015.
The guy is a legitimate NFL starter and could be the answer for many teams at the quarterback position. Bridgewater isn’t the answer for the Jets when it comes to the future and he won’t be valuable to the Jets after this season, so it makes sense to take advantage of his cheap contract and ship him to a team that will give them a good return.
He’s taken some hits this preseason and has shown no signs of his knee hindering him. But the gruesome knee injury Bridgewater suffered in 2016 was a non-contact injury. If Bridgewater is constantly being forced to move out of the pocket, it puts him at greater risk of reinjuring that knee, thus decreasing his trade value dramatically.
Bowles will likely take the rest of the preseason to decide who he will start at quarterback in Week 1. But when you take all of the factors into account, McCown seems like the best answer.