Through three weeks, Josh Mccown has been exactly the player he was expected to be. He’s shown a decent command of the playbook and the ability to stretch the field when necessary. On Sunday, the Jets dominated the Dolphins behind a 249 yard, 1 TD performance from Mccown. But while his high level of play is encouraging in the short term, is it in the best interest for the franchise as a whole?
Any assessment of Mccown’s play so far must be done on a curve. The Jets didn’t sign a 38-year old quarterback to a one-year deal to be the starter of the future, so the overall goal when Mccown is on the field should be for him to continue the development of the young playmakers around him. From that standpoint, he has done a sufficient job. Although Jermaine Kearse has been Mccown’s favorite target so far, Robby Anderson, ArDarius Stewart, and Chad Hansen should hopefully see their roles expand as the season progresses.
Mccown was basically terrible week one in Buffalo. The stat sheet shows that he completed 67% of his passes but that 26/39 effort accumulated a measly 187 yards for an embarrassing 4.79 Y/A. In that game the Jets offensive playbook was basically handoffs up the middle and 2 yard out routes. Aside from one strong touchdown drive, Mccown struggled mightily.
The narrative shifted in week 2 when Mccown played a fairly strong game. The offense put up a somewhat respectable 20 points and offensive coordinator John Morton opened up the playbook for Mccown, leading to a beautiful 34 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. Mccown’s second touchdown came when the game was long over, but he made an impressive throw while taking a huge hit and delivered a bullet to Kearse again.
Following the Raiders game, most fans and analysts overlooked the fact that Mccown threw for just 166 yards and instead focused on the 2 touchdown passes . After 2 games, Mccown was playing well enough to quell any replacement talk, but not nearly well enough to win a game.
Against Miami on the other hand, Mccown was legitimately impressive. He completed 78% of his passes for 249 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 turnovers. The most notable throw was a 69-yard touchdown bomb into the outstretched arms of Robby Anderson. The Jets put up 20 points and dominated the Dolphins in all three phases of the game (which was only the 10th most surprising thing in a crazy NFL week).
The problem with Mccown’s strong play is that this year isn’t about him. The number one objective for the Jets this season should be to get a thorough evaluation of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. If Mccown continues to play sound football the Jets won’t be able to sell a QB switch to the locker room. Until the Jets are completely out of it, Mccown will continue to start. This wouldn’t be an issue if Mccown had continued to play like he did in Buffalo. But what if Mccown produces like he did last week and the Jets pick up wins against the Jaguars and Browns in the coming weeks? At that point, the earliest this team could make a QB switch would be after the bye–with just 6 games left. That’s not nearly enough time to evaluate one quarterback, let alone two.
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