Josh McCown will help the New York’s young wide receivers develop, right? The logic is that he will bring a stabilizing, veteran presence, be able to properly read coverages and throw accurate enough to not stunt the growth of players such as Quincy Enunwa, Robbie Anderson and Charone Peake. Is that true, though?
The 37-year-old has completed 59 percent of passes in his career for 6.72 yards-per-attempt. The latter statistic would have ranked 27th for NFL quarterbacks last season. Add this to the fact that the Browns’ running backs averaged over seven receptions a game (Jets running backs averaged under six) when he started in 2016, and Jets fans could see a small uptick in checkdown passes.
In the past four seasons, however, there have been two different McCowns. In 2013 and 2015, he played in 16 total games and threw 25 touchdowns with five interceptions. All the while he completed over 63 percent of passes each year.
Compare that against 2014 and 2016. His totals: 19 games played. 17 touchdowns, 20 interceptions. Unsurprisingly, he completed less than 57 percent of passes those years. That’s 2016 Ryan Fitzpatrick-bad.
Maybe 2017 will be another good year. But quarterbacks closer to 40 than 30 usually don’t improve. Below we look at some of McCown’s past work with young wideouts to see how they performed.
2016 Corey Coleman
The first-round rookie only played four games where McCown was the primary quarterback. It is a small sample size, but Coleman caught 12-of-25 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns from the veteran. That might not sound great, but Coleman only had four touchdowns total last year and other QBs were 21-of-49 throwing to him. The players with the most similar skillset on the Jets roster are Robbie Anderson and Devin Smith.
2016 Terrelle Pryor
A converted QB, Pryor and McCown clearly had issues connecting consistently. The duo completed 18-of-42 attempts for 299 yards. It’s obvious the quarterback struggled throwing to anyone in 2016.
2013 Alshon Jeffery
The then 23-year-old had the best year of his career catching passes from Jay Cutler and then McCown for the last eight games. Under the latter, he caught 50 passes for 800 yards and four touchdowns. It is undoubtedly the best eight-game stretch of his career. And to McCown’s credit, while Jeffrey was on his way to have a very good season with Cutler throwing him passes, he finished with a great year with the career backup at the helm.
Another positive for McCown is the eight-game stretch in 2014 where Mike Evans mounted 36 catches for 591 yards and eight touchdowns his rookie season.
One constant is him being injury prone, however. A combination of injuries and backup-level talent has meant that he has never started a full season. The reality is that while McCown should be a stable presence mentally, he will physically turn the ball over and miss open wide receivers. That’s particularly true if his play resembles last season.
Cody Kessler, a rookie, was a markedly better player in 2016 than McCown. So it would not be surprising to see someone else throwing passes for the Jets by mid-season. Even if he does play well, it might eventually be time for the Hackenberg/Watson/Trubitsky-era to begin.
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