Josh McCown’s broken left hand is an unfortunate injury for the aging quarterback who was putting together a career year with the New York Jets. However, McCown’s injury could offer an opportunity for the Jets to do something many fans might be clamoring to see.
As I’ve said all year, the Jets need to see what they have in Christian Hackenberg before this season ends. For better or worse, New York must let the 2016 second-round pick play. McCown’s season-ending injury only paves an opportunity for Hackenberg to make his debut.
The Jets’ season was likely over regardless of whether McCown was healthy or not. An ugly loss to the lousy Denver Broncos should’ve destroyed any hope that this team could be respectable. McCown deserves plenty of credit for helping the Jets to five wins, but he wasn’t taking this team anywhere close to the postseason.
With McCown out of the equation, the Jets will turn to third-year pro Bryce Petty Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Petty, a 2015 fourth-round pick, hasn’t been anything special in limited starting experience. He started four games in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2016 and threw for 809 yards, three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
There’s not much more to see from Petty when it comes to his viability as a starting quarterback. He’s a sub-par talent who has always had trouble reading the field. He looked rusty against the Broncos and deserves one more chance against the Saints. But Sunday in the Superdome should be his last stand. Enough said.
We’re 95 percent sure what the Jets have in Hackenberg. The fact that he hasn’t seen the field in 29 career games speaks volumes. Todd Bowles didn’t gush about the Penn State product Monday, but he seemed comfortable in handing over the reins to Hackenberg if necessary.
“Yes, I am,” Bowles said. “He’ll get reps this week too. Both of the guys got to be ready, and they’ll be ready.”
Starting Hackenberg is a risk for an offense budding with glimpses of offensive talent. Hackenberg might not be able to accurately locate Robby Anderson from three yards away, let alone 30. But the rest of this season shouldn’t be about Anderson, or Bilal Powell, or Austin Seferian-Jenkins, or Jermaine Kearse. Those players have all proven themselves to be reliable options.
The rest of the 2017 season should be devoted toward finding a solution at quarterback. That’s not to say Hackenberg is the solution — he most likely isn’t. But learning what the Jets have in Hackenberg is one step closer to finding the long-lost franchise quarterback.
The Jets would likely use McCown as an excuse for giving Hackenberg another redshirt season. Bowles and his offensive coaching staff don’t have that escape hatch any longer. It’s time for the Jets to see what they have in the player they invested a precious second-round pick into.
The Jets likely won’t get any return on their investment, but at least they’ll know once and for all.