By Brad Carroll
It’s anyone’s guess as to how New York Jets coach Todd Bowles will handle the team’s final preseason game Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. In what has been a confusing, strange and all-around depressing training camp, Bowles has remained tight-lipped on his plans on just about everything, but mostly the quarterback situation.
Finally, on Monday, Bowles named Josh McCown the starter. He's the quarterback who has played just seven snaps this preseason (resulting in a touchdown) and has seen limited reps in practice as well. Christian Hackenberg has started the last two preseason games, proving he’s not ready to be a starting quarterback in the process, and Bryce Petty has played mainly with and against backups, but has shined in those opportunities. McCown’s the starter, now the battle is for the backup job.
Even though that much appears set in stone, the quarterback situation and playing rotation still dominates the conversation when it comes to the Jets. And it’s no surprise that leads off our list of the three biggest storyline to follow in the preseason finale.
Who Will Play QB?
Bowles said he would have no problem starting McCown Thursday, even though it would be a giant risk, as they would be lost if he got injured and had to miss significant time. But getting McCown some actual game action might be in the best interest of the team this season. Either way, don’t expect McCown to get more than a few series, if he plays at all. From there the battle for the backup quarterback job is on as Hackenberg and Petty should get a great deal of playing time, especially if Petty is fully ready to go after his injury from last week. Hackenberg has looked simply terrible in his two starts, while Petty, on paper, has outplayed everyone in the quarterback room. The Jets have to be hoping Hackenberg shows some kind of promise Thursday so they can make him the backup and bring him one step closer to starting eventually this season. Petty can ruin that party with another big performance, though. As has been the case all summer, the quarterback play will be the main storyline to follow.
Maybe There Are Playmakers?
The Jets may have found a playmaker last week against the Giants, as rookie ArDarius Stewart caught five passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns. He should get another shot to prove his worth as a potential starting wide receiver opposite Robby Anderson Thursday. The Jets desperately need another playmaker on offense, and if Stewart proves he’s that guy, the future will look that much brighter. Chad Hansen, another rookie, could make a name for himself against the Eagles as well. Hansen is getting better and better and caught two passes for 45 yards against the Giants. Watch the wide receivers, because the Jets need to find a couple of good ones out of the group.
Whether they get playing time or are simply watching from the sideline, this could be the last time fans see Sheldon Richardson, Matt Forte and others in Jets’ green and white. The Jets have been trying to trade Richardson since last year, and if they get a solid offer this week, they could finally pull the trigger and send him packing. For the Jets’ sake, let’s hope they don’t settle for a later-round selection just to get him out of town. Reports also came out recently that the Jets are sending out trade feelers for Forte, who played well last season, but doesn’t really fit in with the team’s direction. If the Jets could get anything for him, they’d probably do it to rid his salary. The Jets will no doubt be scouring the waiver wire as a huge amount of players will be released come Saturday and could be on the team’s radar, so many current players could see their final action in green and white.