Although quarterback Josh McCown had a brief career with the Jets, the lasting impact of his career will continue to benefit the franchise for years to come.
At first glance, the news appears hardly consequential. McCown was the prototypical journeyman quarterback, playing for 10 teams over a 17 year span.
Over that period, he only posted one winning season. He never had a season of 20 touchdown passes, and only managed four seasons with more touchdown passes than interceptions. By any criteria, McCown was not a particularly proficient NFL passer.
However, for the two years he wore the green and white, McCown was a valuable asset for the Jets.
In 2017, McCown joined the Jets and was the starter for the majority of the season. Although the team floundered to a 5-11 record, he played admirably. He posted career highs in completions (267), completion percentage (67.3%), yards (2,926), and touchdown passes (18).
In 2018, McCown played a minimal role on the field. He appeared in four games, managing only one touchdown pass.
Off the field, however, McCown left a lasting legacy with the team. Whether he was playing or not, McCown provided leadership and a positive locker room presence.
When McCown’s season was cut short in 2017 due to a broken hand, he broke down and cried because he couldn’t play and support his teammates on the field. The Jets (5-8 at the time) were not making the playoffs, but McCown wanted to battle through every play anyway. His reaction may have only made for a fleeting headline at the time, but it was remembered by his teammates.
Nearing the twilight of his career in 2018, McCown mainly served as a backup and mentor to rookie Sam Darnold. The effect of the latter cannot be understated.
When Darnold won his first game, McCown was right beside him celebrating. And throughout the ups and downs of a turbulent rookie season, McCown was a constant source of support and guidance for Darnold.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) September 11, 2018
Darnold showed dramatic improvement near the end of the season (6 TD/ 1 INT over his last four games). He credits McCown as playing a role in his success, saying “I think it was just awesome to be able to learn and watch him.”
If Darnold continues to grow into a franchise quarterback, the legacy of McCown will last far beyond his short tenure in a Jets uniform.