The sad part about this Quarterback Plight for the Jets, and for their long-suffering fans, is it really doesn’t matter whether it is Josh McCown or Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty who starts Saturday night against the Giants, or on opening day in Buffalo.
It doesn’t matter whether Tim Tebow abandons his improbable baseball dream and sneaks into the Jets huddle to run the Wildcat when Todd Bowles isn’t looking.
Or something like that.
The Jets’ Bermuda Triangle.
Welcome to the MetLife Bowl, otherwise known as a Tale of Two Franchises.
One — the New York Football Giants — with a franchise quarterback, and one — your New York Jets — without one.
One — the New York Football Giants — on a mission to be the last team standing on Super Sunday, and one — your New York Jets — seemingly on a mission to be the first team standing in line for USC quarterback Sam Darnold.
One franchise — the New York Football Giants — that has gone five consecutive seasons without a fifth championship, five consecutive seasons that feel like 48 consecutive seasons in East Rutherford.
One franchise — your New York Jets — that has gone 48 consecutive seasons without a second championship, 48 consecutive seasons that feel like an eternity in Florham Park.
Since 2005, Manning’s first full season as quarterback, the Jets have trotted out Chad Pennington, 39-year-old Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and now … McCownHackenbergPetty.
There was that fleeting period in 2009 and 2010 when the Jets appeared in back-to-back AFC Championship games and Rex Ryan defiantly crowed that the Giants were now the Little Brother. And would be for the next decade:
“Some people,” he wrote in his book, “like to say the Giants are the big brother team and the Jets are the little brother team. … I have news for you: We are the better team. We are the big brother.”
And now? Ryan is with ESPN and the Jets aren’t the little brother team, they are the infant brother team. Boys to Men.
And the big brother team likely already has its next franchise quarterback in place with rookie Davis Webb.
Manning may be 36, but he enters his fourth season in the Ben McAdoo offense and will get to throw to Odell Beckham Jr. once the wondrous one’s ankle heals and the best receiving corps he has ever had.
McCownHackenbergPetty? McCown’s paucity of reps this week make you wonder whether Bowles has become so verklempt that he might be tempted to alternate each one of his quarterbacks one series at a time.
And sadly, what would he have to lose anyway? McCown would be one of the league’s best backups. Hackenberg was a project when he was drafted, and is still a project a year later. Petty hasn’t seized the moment. None of them will be throwing to Beckham. Robby Anderson, yes. Beckham, no.
Bowles has been so secretive with his quarterback plan it makes you wonder whether he is hiding something from Robert Mueller.
We have been told he has a plan: How should we decipher this plan?
He knows what McCown can do. And he doesn’t want him doing it this season for too long.
He must find out what Hackenberg and Petty — but more so Hackenberg — can do between now and the 2018 NFL Draft. And sooner rather than later. But not too soon if it is obvious to everyone that it gives him the best chance to lose.
“They’re going to put whoever it is in the best situation to be successful,” Hackenberg said.
Whoever it is would have a better chance to be successful with 31 other receiving corps.
“I’ve been in a ton of situations, so it’s not odd for me,” McCown said.
McCown has played for 10 teams now and if you gave him truth serum he would tell you this is odd for anyone.
“Every day that we come in here we’re going to compete as a group you know. So, it doesn’t matter who’s the starter,” Petty said.
Sad, but mostly true.
The 2003 Giants with Kerry Collins lost their last eight games to finish 4-12 and earn the fourth pick inthe 2004 draft. It got then-GM Ernie Accorsi within striking distance to engineer the franchise-altering trade with the Chargers at the top of the draft for Manning. Woody Johnson and GM Mike Maccagnan backed up the old Hess truck and left poor Bowles with a 4-12 roster.
Two weeks from Sunday in Buffalo, for one team — your New York Jets — the Suck For Sam Season begins.
Two weeks from Sunday in Arlington, for one team — the New York Football Giants — the Drive For Five begins.
A tale of two franchises, as much as ever.
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