Jets’ Bowles says he’s stick­ing with McCown at QB

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Den­nis Waszak Jr.

Josh McCown is still the man un­der cen­ter for Todd Bowles and the New York Jets.

A day af­ter his team dropped to 4-6 head­ing into its bye-week break, Bowles in­sisted he’s not con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a quar­ter­back change from the 38-yearold vet­eran to ei­ther Chris­tian Hack­en­berg or Bryce Petty.

“I’m not com­ing up with a sce­nario right now,” Bowles said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call Mon­day. “We’re go­ing to play the games, and we’re go­ing to try to win each one and take them one at a time. Josh will be our quar­ter­back, and then we’ll go from there.”

The Jets’ play­off as­pi­ra­tions took a se­ri­ous hit Sun­day when New York fell 1510 to short-handed Tampa Bay , which played with­out quar­ter­back Jameis Win­ston and wide re­ceiver Mike Evans. The loss prompted some fans and me­dia to spec­u­late as to when New York might give Hack­en­berg or Petty a look as the Jets play out the sea­son.

“If some­thing hap­pens to Josh, and those two get ready to play, they’ll play,” Bowles said.

That “some­thing” would be an in­jury, and that’s not a far-fetched sce­nario — par­tic­u­larly af­ter all the pres­sure Tampa Bay put on McCown. He was sacked six times and the Buc­ca­neers fin­ished with 14 quar­ter­back hits, send­ing McCown to the ground of­ten.

McCown said it was “fair” to ask him about whether he felt sore a day later.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “You just take the hits, so to speak, and move on. Thank­fully, noth­ing ma­jor, and now we just take this time to heal up and uti­lize the bye and come back at it.”

Bowles said the Jets’ goal re­mains try­ing to win each game, and clearly be­lieves McCown gives them the best chance to do so — de­spite New York drop­ping four of its past five.

Some frus­trated fans took to so­cial me­dia and New York-area sports ra­dio to call for McCown to take a seat and for the Jets to see whether Hack­en­berg, a sec­ond-rounder last year, or Petty, a fourthrounder in 2015, can estab­lish them­selves as the an­swer at quar­ter­back for the fu­ture.

“My ap­proach is that I give my all to the role that I’m in,” McCown said of the buzz. “If that changes, then I’ll ad­just ac­cord­ingly, but I don’t re­ally pay at­ten­tion to what out­side opin­ions are or any of that stuff.”

McCown, in his first sea­son in New York, had been mostly solid in his past few games en­ter­ing Sun­day, but has also had some in­ter­cep­tions that have helped lead to some losses.

Against the Buc­ca­neers, McCown fin­ished 23 of 39 for 262 yards with a touch­down and an in­ter­cep­tion while be­ing ha­rassed all day by the de­fense. That TD toss, though, was his ca­reer-high 14th of the sea­son, mak­ing him the old­est quar­ter­back to set a ca­reer best, ac­cord­ing to the NFL. His pre­vi­ous high was 13 with Chicago in 2013, when he started five games for an in­jured Jay Cut­ler.

“Re­ally, that num­ber needs to be a lot higher, to be hon­est with you, in my opin­ion,” McCown said. “I just look back at the few touch­downs that we’ve had taken away and other things that I feel like I could’ve done bet­ter to have more.”

McCown, in his 15th NFL sea­son, is also clos­ing in on an­other per­sonal mile­stone. His 2,242 yards pass­ing are just 269 fewer than his ca­reer high of 2,511 set with Ari­zona in 2004.

“I’m pleased with how I’m play­ing,” said McCown, whose 69.0 per­cent com­ple­tion rate ranks third in the NFL. “Some of the things that I’ve set out to do for my­self per­son­ally, just with dif­fer­ent mark­ers that I want to hit and things that I’m look­ing for as far as play­ing good foot­ball and stuff like that, I feel re­ally good about.

“Ob­vi­ously, we can al­ways do bet­ter and want to do bet­ter. But con­sid­er­ing com­ing to­gether with a new group and ev­ery­thing, I’m just re­ally proud to be a part of it and feel re­ally good about the things that we’ve been able to do. I would say I like how I’ve played and like what we’re do­ing and be­lieve that these next six games, we can get even bet­ter.”

McCown has never played a full 16-game sea­son, with the most be­ing 14 — in­clud­ing 13 starts — in 2004 with the Car­di­nals.

If he hits that ca­reer mile­stone, he knows that it likely means good news for the Jets dur­ing a sea­son in which ex­pec­ta­tions out­side the fa­cil­ity were ex­traor­di­nar­ily low.

“It’s some­thing I haven’t done through­out my ca­reer, for one rea­son or the other, whether it’s in­jury or what not, and so to be able to do that, I would be proud of that,” McCown said.

“More than any­thing, just hope­fully to be there help­ing our team make a push to be there in the play­off hunt in the end, that’s the key. So, ab­so­lutely, as long as that is what it’s about, then I’d be all for that.”

CHRIS O’MEARA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New York Jets quar­ter­back Josh McCown (15) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game Sun­day in Tampa, Fla.

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