On Monday afternoon, Todd Bowles made an announcement that has long-term ramifications for the New York Jets. In fact, those ramifications may extend past Bowles’ shelf life with the franchise.
Bowles announced that veteran Josh McCown will be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback against the Buffalo Bills. OK, cool. What else were they going to do?
Well, this is what the Jets are really doing: they are looking forward eight months. Yes, the 2017 season commences in less than two weeks, but they are an about-the-future team if there ever was one in the NFL.
The Jets purged several big names (Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold and David Harris, among others) this offseason. They are void of talent and they are looking for the future. 2017 is not about of the future. This upcoming season is simply a portal to get the franchise to the future.
And it’s going to be super-ugly. The Jets could legitimately go 0-16 and give the adorable 2008 Detroit Lions some company on the mantle of futility.
There is no talent at quarterback and there isn’t much anywhere on the roster sans defensive lineman Leonard Williams and rookie safety Jamal Adams. The Jets’ roster is jealous of the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers’ rosters. Yes, it’s that bad.
So, the Jets have no choice but to go with the 38-year-old McCown.
What are the other options?
Christian Hackenberg was given the shot to make a career for himself and to show the Jets he can be the future. But he was dreadful this summer. He just doesn’t have it. Bryce Petty is hurt. But he doesn’t have it, either.
The Jets are going to have to play this year and McCown is the best option.
They won’t compete, but McCown is, at least, competent. He is a solid, longtime backup. A contender would do a lot worse than inserting McCown if its starter went down. With the Jets, McCown will give them professional repetitions.
He can guide this offense as Hackenberg and Petty couldn’t.
The best part for the Jets is McCown isn’t good enough, nor does he have the help, to carry them to many victories. In other words, McCown will be a respectable player, but he won’t go out and screw the master plan.
The Jets will still lose big with McCown, but he won’t be the bigger problem.
So, while McCown gets the chance to play at the age of 38, the Jets can still work on the future.
Because that’s all that’s there for this team.
The quarterback changes and acquisitions during the 2018 offseason will be fascinating. The draft class is heralded, and Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo are slated to become free agents. Because the Jets’ talent level is at ground zero, and because they likely will have a high draft pick, their avenue of finding a quarterback will likely be via the draft.
So, this fall is as much about scouting the college quarterbacks as it is about game planning around McCown. Monday’s decision was an announcement to the world that the Jets care about Josh Allen of Wyoming. They care about Sam Darnold of USC. They care about Lamar Jackson of Louisville. They care about Josh Rosen of UCLA.
They are over Hackenberg. They are over Petty. They trust McCown for the next four months.
Then, all bets are off.
That goes for everyone. New York may not keep Bowles next season. The Jets can easily try to pair a new offensive-minded head coach with their new rookie quarterback. Josh McDaniels? Scott Linehan? Jon Gruden?
Who knows? The future is wide open for the New York Jets. McCown won’t be part of it. But he’s the right guy to carry the baton to that future for the Jets.
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