By Ernie Palladino
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Enough evidence is in for Todd Bowles, jury of one, to render his verdict right now.
Instead, Bowles will wait until Monday to announce his starting quarterback.
What’s keeping him is anybody’s guess. It’s not like Christian Hackenberg is suddenly going to learn the nuances of quarterbacking in whatever time he’s afforded in Saturday’s Jets-Giants game. It’s not as if Bryce Petty is going to set hearts leaping as he faces a Giants defense that looked ready in during Monday’s second preseason game for the season-opening tilt with the Cowboys.
Unless Bowles has lost his mind completely, the two magic words he utters to start the press conference will be “Josh McCown.”
So why not end the charade now, announce McCown as his starting quarterback, and let him settle in for his three quarters of work at MetLife Stadium secure in the knowledge that it’s his offense, and his alone.
Until further notice, that is.
Obviously, the plan is for the veteran McCown to start the season, and then give way to Hackenberg after the second-year kid learns another thing or two. Judging by 2-of-6 for 14 yards and two fumbles in Detroit, Hackenberg has a lot to learn, so McCown will have to drive the bus for quite a while. Perhaps until the success is so far out of reach that it just doesn’t matter anymore.
That’s why Bowles should make his decision before the Snoopy Bowl, not after it. McCown, a good soldier who has always done what his teams demanded, deserves the security of knowing he’ll be the man. It can only help him mentally, and will serve as an immediate message to the rest of the offense that they will indeed have a leader who needs no hand-holding.
Be that as it may, McCown will still need time to shake off the rust. Having sat out the Detroit game, his preseason has totaled just one series against the Titans, a 78-yard touchdown drive.
But the time for light workloads ends this week. This is the dress rehearsal for the season, which means the understudies get pushed to the final quarter or so. Leave them to compete for the last roster spots in the preseason finale.
Hackenberg and Petty are understudy material. Such as the Jets’ offense stands, McCown is the headliner.
Maybe it’s just a bad show. Maybe it’s due to close out of town. But even the duds need a lead.
Right now McCown is the best the Jets have.
So dispose of that problem now. Bowles needs to get the quarterback question/non-question off his plate for expedience alone so he can deal with other problems like a bad offensive line and a paucity of receiving talent.
This all may be a lost cause, anyway. It’s not as if a 38-year-old journeyman is going to turn one of the worst offenses in the league into a juggernaut. But given the options, McCown is the best of a bad lot.
Bowles needs to get this announcement out of the way now, so he can move on to other things.
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