FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — There has been plenty of chatter about the New York Jets this offseason, and none of it has been particularly positive.
They’ve got a three-man quarterback competition, a revamped roster that’s minus lots of familiar faces, and a growing number of skeptics who believe the Jets will have trouble winning a game, let alone contend for a playoff spot.
“The outside world’s not in here,” nose tackle Steve McLendon said Friday as the players reported for training camp . “That’s the difference. We’re not really worried about what they say. It’s not about proving them wrong, it’s about doing what we’re supposed to do. And the first thing we did today was show up.”
As for the new-look locker room, the defiant Jets insist they don’t share the doomsday sentiments.
“We believe in each other,” McLendon said. “It’s that short and sweet. We believe in each other.”
After a 10-6 season in which they barely missed the playoffs in Todd Bowles’ first year as coach, the Jets struggled through a brutal 5-11 campaign derailed by injuries and inconsistency. General manager Mike Maccagnan cleared the roster of several high-priced veterans, with the likes of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold and David Harris jettisoned by the Jets.
The rebuild for the future is in full effect, and that means there are likely some rough days ahead.
Marshall saw that coming and asked the Jets to cut him during the offseason so he could hook on with a contender. The wide receiver, now with the Giants, said during a recent radio interview that while New York is doing the right thing in the big picture, he couldn’t imagine making it through the season with the Jets “knowing that we didn’t have a chance.”
“It doesn’t matter. He’s not here,” running back Matt Forte said of his former teammate. “He hasn’t been here the whole offseason. So he doesn’t know what chance we have or anyone has. That’s Brandon speaking on Brandon.”
But Marshall is hardly alone in his assessment of the Jets. The over/under for total victories set by many betting lines has New York at five, with taking the under an increasingly attractive proposition.
One of the major reasons is the lack of clarity at the quarterback position. Much-traveled veteran Josh McCown is favored to emerge from a ho-hum competition that also includes Bryce Petty, a fourth-rounder in 2015, and Christian Hackenberg, a second-rounder last year.
McCown signed a one-year, $6 million contract in the offseason to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick as the possible starter and resident QB mentor. Petty mostly struggled in limited opportunities last year. Hackenberg never saw the field while being deemed a project as a rookie.
The Jets will spend the summer evaluating whether Petty or Hackenberg can establish himself as a potential starter. Meanwhile, the 38-year-old McCown fully expects to be under center when the regular season begins at Buffalo on Sept. 10.
“That’s the goal and why I came here, is to play,” McCown said. “I’ve gone a number of different places and just been the backup, but the opportunity to compete and play and continue to grow and build my process and grow as a player, I don’t think that can ever end.”
McCown was unsure how the Jets will split the snaps between the quarterbacks during training camp, but the veteran worked primarily with the first-team offense during offseason workouts.
“We’ll see how they go,” McCown said. “We’ll take the reps and whenever they call our names, we’ll go out there and be ready to go. That’s my mindset.”
Linebacker Demario Davis played with McCown in Cleveland last year and called the quarterback “one of the most legit human beings I’ve ever met.” Davis added that McCown’s high character and leadership abilities are attributes from which a young team can benefit.
Davis sees lots of similarities between the Jets and those Browns, who went 1-15 with a young, inexperienced roster. He said New York has more veterans, but knows many people outside the facility have a dismal outlook for the Jets this season.
“You really kind of have to block out the noise,” Davis said. “It’s very early. You’ve got to put in the work. It’s training camp, Day One. You’ve got a long road ahead of you.”
NOTES: RG Brian Winters doesn’t expect any limitations after having rotator cuff surgery in the offseason. … McLendon said he dropped some weight to stay fresher and healthier. He’s down to 325 after being about 330 in OTAs and minicamp. As for being one of the team’s oldest players at 31, McLendon laughed. “How I look at it is, I’m like fine wine, baby,” he said. “I don’t get old, I get better with time.” … OT Ben Ijalana said he might be “a little limited” at the start of camp after having arthroscopic surgery on a knee about seven weeks ago. … Rookie CB Jeremy Clark, a sixth-round pick from Michigan, was placed on the active/non-football injury list. He had knee surgery last fall. Clark was the only Jets player placed on the NFI or the physically unable to perform lists to start camp.
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