Today’s question: Should the New York Jets open the season with Josh McCown at quarterback because he gives them the best chance to win, or should they bite the bullet and start Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty?
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: Win? The Jets? Good one. There is not a chance the Jets are making the playoffs this year, as evidenced by their decisions to part ways with players who could have actually helped them win. The only sense in starting McCown would be to spare the younger quarterbacks the embarrassment of losing and the shaken confidence that comes with it. The Jets seem to have accepted their fate this season and should be past the stage of feeling shame about it by the time they make a decision about the starting quarterback. Let Hackenberg or Petty try to turn a one- or two-win team into a four- or five-win team; that would be an encouraging season for either.
James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: The Jets should go young with Hackenberg or Petty. Of those two, Petty gets my vote by a slim margin, although he didn’t show enough last year. I was never big on Hackenberg, dating to his college days at Penn State, and didn’t buy into the hype that he would be a good NFL quarterback. So far my projection is correct. Regardless, I don’t expect the Jets to follow my suggestion. McCown is the best option in terms of experience and giving the Jets the best chance to win on a weekly basis. That’s all that really matters to a head coach, and Todd Bowles has been given enough mountains to climb this season by trying to win with a gutted roster that no longer includes Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker or David Harris. Fans and analysts can think long-term, but Bowles cannot. Look for Bowles to go with the experienced quarterback in a must-win year.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: If a franchise doesn’t have a quarterback who can run the offense, it puts the entire team at risk and ultimately affects the scouting evaluations of others. That is the foundation on which I answer decisively that McCown should start. Unless Hackenberg and Petty show considerable improvement from 2016, this shouldn’t be a difficult decision. McCown at least is a well-established quarterback at this point; I put him in a similar category as Ryan Fitzpatrick. He can get you in and out of the huddle, make some challenging throws, but also can hurt you with mistakes. He also is regarded by many who have played with him as a great teammate.
The Jets obviously are building for the long haul and one of their questions is whether Hackenberg is the long-term answer. The team will know when it is the right time to put him on the field to find that out, but the worst thing management and coach Todd Bowles can do is rush that decision, because players develop at different rates. My sense, from afar, is that the gap between McCown and Hackenberg is significant enough that this won’t be much of a debate at the start of the season. Maybe that changes at some point. But for now, McCown is the pick, not only because he is the best the Jets have at the position, but also because his play will help produce a clearer analysis on every other offensive player on the roster.