NEW YORK — 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-year-old 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 15-10 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 fourth-rounder 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.”