McCown to start vs. Bills for in­jured Darnold

Stamford Advocate - - Sports -

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Josh McCown is go­ing from men­tor to starter this week for the New York Jets.

The 39-year-old quar­ter­back will be un­der cen­ter Sun­day against the Buf­falo Bills in place of in­jured rookie Sam Darnold, who’s side­lined with a strained right foot.

“I’m ready to rule him out as a starter for this week,” coach Todd Bowles said of Darnold on Thurs­day. “I don’t know if I’ll rule him out yet for the game.”

That means Darnold still could po­ten­tially be the No. 2 quar­ter­back on Sun­day. If not, Davis Webb would be pro­moted from the prac­tice squad to serve as McCown’s backup.

Ei­ther way, the start­ing job is McCown’s — at least for this week.

“I’m ex­tremely com­fort­able with him,” Bowles said. “We talk all the time. He un­der­stands the game and the team, and we see things the same way. So I’m com­fort­able.”

McCown has not taken a snap in a reg­u­lar-sea­son game this sea­son as the Jets have fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing Darnold. The No. 3 over­all pick won the job out of train­ing camp, but was in­jured dur­ing New York’s 13-6 loss at Mi­ami last Sun­day.

McCown was the Jets’ starter last sea­son and had a ca­reer year be­fore be­ing side­lined the last three games with a bro­ken left hand. Since the sum­mer, McCown has spo­ken highly of Darnold and ex­pressed ex­cite­ment about be­ing able to have a hand in the young­ster’s de­vel­op­ment.

Darnold has re­ceived lots of ad­vice and tips from McCown on the side­line and prac­tice field. Now, he’ll have no choice but to watch.

“I say it all the time: That’s why we do this, to play,” McCown said Wed­nes­day when Darnold’s in­jury was an­nounced. “If that’s the case, you’re torn be­cause your friend and a team­mate, it means he can’t go. In that re­gard, I don’t

wish that on any­body, but at the same time as a pro­fes­sional, as a backup quar­ter­back you have to serve your team in that role and go in and play win­ning foot­ball.

“That’s what’s fun, that’s what you look for­ward to and that’s why you play this game. And, we’ll go out and com­pete.”

The Jets are ranked 29th in over­all of­fense, in­clud­ing 28th in the pass­ing game. Some of the strug­gles can be at­trib­uted to the in­ex­pe­ri­ence of Darnold, who has an NFL-lead­ing 14 in­ter­cep­tions. Dur­ing New York’s cur­rent three-game los­ing streak, the rookie has thrown two touch­down passes and seven INTs.

So, some might con­sider the in­jury a bless­ing in dis­guise. It al­lows Darnold to take a breather and give McCown a chance to per­haps get the of­fense back on track.

“Ob­vi­ously, Josh has played a long time in this league,” wide re­ceiver Jeremy Ker­ley said. “So through­out the weeks, he sees things a lot quicker. Just the men­tal as­pects, he’s a lot fur­ther, just with his ex­pe­ri­ence and be­ing in the league. So, him just be­ing able to see things a lot quicker, you know, the tempo kind of picked up a lit­tle bit.”

Bowles made it clear, how­ever, that this is no long-term so­lu­tion. When Darnold is healthy, he’ll step right back into the start­ing role.

“Yeah,” Bowles said, “he’s our quar­ter­back.”

Even if McCown is play­ing well when Darnold is fully healthy?

“Sam is our quar­ter­back,” Bowles an­swered.

Bowles was then asked why that would au­to­mat­i­cally be the case with Darnold.

“Be­cause he’s our starter and he won the job,” the coach said. “I feel com­fort­able with him in there and I feel com­fort­able with Josh in there.”

While Darnold is the easy tar­get and he has shoul­dered the blame for the strug­gles on of­fense, the Jets have sev­eral other cul­prits. Cen­ter Spencer Long has dealt with a fin­ger in­jury that has led to sev­eral way­ward snaps out of the shot­gun, dis­rupt­ing the tim­ing of plays. Wide re­ceivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby An­der­son have been deal­ing with an­kle in­juries, and there have been blown plays and dropped passes by sev­eral play­ers.

Matt Rourke / As­so­ci­ated Press

The Jets’ Josh McCown warms up be­fore a pre­sea­son game against the Ea­gles on Aug. 30.

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