New York Jets: The Alternative Solution at Quarterback

Is there a quarterback solution right in front of the faces of the New York Jets brass?

So the growing reality of the New York Jets quarterback situation stopped growing. Geno Smith has signed with the New York Giants, so he will learn from Eli Manning instead of competing for time with the Jets. Most of the quarterback market has already fallen elsewhere, and nobody is interested in Colin Kaepernick. Jay Cutler had moved to the top of Mike Maccagnan’s list, but that seems to have fizzled out like a soda bottle opened for way too long.

Josh McCown is the latest to join the fray, visiting with the Jets this past Friday and Saturday. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reported that the two sides have begun contract negotiations. He would join a quarterback room without a clear-cut starter, so he would come in and compete for the job, potentially giving Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty more time to learn.

They may still draft a quarterback; it’s not out of the realm of possibility. The Jets have been searching for a franchise quarterback for decades. Under the assumption that McCown signs, he will serve in that bridge role that Ryan Fitzpatrick filled over the past two seasons.

Remember how the original plan was to have Fitzpatrick serve as a veteran backup? Why not have McCown do the same thing? He doesn’t have to start. The point is, maybe there is a solution to the quarterback situation right under everyone’s noses. What is it?

Let the kids play!

The Jets are very clearly in a complete rebuilding mode, despite what they say. The offensive line is being rebuilt after the departures of Nick Mangold and Breno Giacomini. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall are gone as well. They haven’t spent a great deal of money to replace these players. They filled some needs, signing Kelvin Beachum and Chandler Catanzaro. Morris Claiborne has been signed to take over for Revis. But for the most part, they are going with a youth movement.

Why not let a young quarterback grow with this young bunch of players? If McCown wins the job, it’s another year for these two young quarterbacks sitting on the bench. Could they grow a bit? Sure. But nothing can be substituted for game experience. The Jets have not seen enough from Petty to let him play. Why? He hasn’t played enough. They really have no idea what Christian Hackenberg is. Of course not, because he hasn’t played in a real game.

Peyton Manning started as a rookie. He took his lumps, but what he earned is experience. He was given the opportunity to get on the field and get his feet wet no matter the result. Yes, he was a first overall draft choice. My point is not that Bryce Petty should have started on day one. Now, however, we are in his third year and we are in Hackenberg’s second. They have taken in a fair amount of NFL football from the sidelines. If the Jets keep bringing in short-term replacements, how will they ever determine if they have a long-term solution? They won’t.

It’s not as if McCown has lit the world on fire. Remove his 2006 season with the Bears, and his touchdown to interception ratio would be 66:68. That would make McCown, save for one year, a turnover machine. Jets fans saw that movie last year and would not like to see the sequel. In 60 starts, he has won 18 games, and his completion rate is under 60 percent. He couldn’t even start for the Cleveland Browns last year. This is who these guys should be learning from?

Bottom line, if you let one of the kids play quarterback, you are potentially surrendering 2017. However, you are also finally taking steps to find the long-term solution at the position.

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