There’s an old football saying that goes,
“The most popular guy in town, is the backup quarterback.”
With the Jets’ playoff hopes all but erased at 4-6, it seems obvious it has become that time of year yet again in Florham Park. Time for the Petty chants to begin echoing through the stands in Northern Jersey. Or wait, the Hackenberg chants?
Hold on one more second. Why are those calls being made in the first place? The Jets are only 1.5 games out of the playoffs. That’s not an impossible bar to clear, is it? And the man who has taken every snap under center has posted the highest quarterback rating by a Jets signal caller in fifteen years. What’s going on here?
Well, from the outside point of view, it’s obvious why those calls are being made. That man under center is Josh McCown. He’s 38 years old, and already has twice as many wins this year as he did the previous three. His inflated numbers mask his awful untimely mistakes the stats don’t quite capture. Can he really be trusted to get five more in two months to make a playoff run? Plus, as the viewer, we have an honest perspective. We get that this is about as weak of a roster as there is in the NFL. And, with the Panthers, Chiefs, Saints, and Patriots all still left on the schedule, the 5-1 finish (at least) needed to challenge for the playoffs is all but impossible. We see that clearly.
To of all us, this shouldn’t be complicated. The Jets are done. McCown won’t be here next year. Play a young guy with upside. See what you have. You even have the bye week to prepare him. It’s that simple.
However, it’s highly doubtful the Jets will go that route at this point. As mentioned, they’re still technically in the mix. They’ve lost 4 of 5, but all of them feel like close losses, as each was by one score when it was all said and done. The blowout losses that deflate team morale haven’t been there. McCown is clearly trusted by the coaching staff and by most accounts has been the classic “great locker room presence” that doesn’t get benched as easily as others would.
McCown is going to quarterback against the Panthers two weeks from now. That’s just the harsh truth. At this point, there’s not much he can do on the field to move the Jets franchise forward, but it is kind of hard to blame the team too harshly for leaving him out there. It’s certainly not the best move, but it’s not indefensible either.
So, when will a move be made? In my opinion, I don’t see it until they hit loss #8, unless McCown puts out an awful performance against Carolina. I do think that it becomes a more legitimate possibility if they fall to 4-7, but there hasn’t been an ounce of noise about a move yet. Why would one more loss (to a good team) set off the alarm?
The odd man out in all of this is Christian Hackenberg. The second round pick is a longshot to even appear in a game through two seasons, even though his only competition has been Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and Josh McCown. If the Jets make a change, it will most likely be to Petty. At that point, it will probably be his team for the rest of the year unless he gets hurt. That might be Hackenberg’s only path to the field. Then again, when Petty got hurt last year, the Jets deferred Hackenberg and moved back to Fitzpatrick. Would that happen again?
It’s starting to become a messy QB situation once again, but at the end of the day, the answer for the Jets probably isn’t on the roster. This offseason, they’ll have the pressing need, the draft position, extra draft ammunition (with the 2nd rounder from Seattle) and cap space to make a move. Josh McCown served the bridge role decently. He made the team more competitive than expected and helped unlock Robby Anderson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to an extent. But when will the bridge end? Will the Jets spend another year riding a limited stopgap as they “develop” mid-round quarterbacks they are too afraid to put out there when they have nothing to lose?
What do you think of the Jets quarterback situation? Has the time come to make a move?
When is it time to pull Josh McCown from the starting spot?
This poll is closed
Official playoff elimination
Only if he gets hurt