By Pete Baxter
NFL Journeyman Josh McCown has continued to receive interest from multiple NFL teams, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. McCown, currently coaching his son’s high school football team, received interest from the Houston Texans for head coaching duties during the offseason before he (understandably) withdrew from consideration.
Now, his locker room leadership and veteran savvy appear to be on the wish list of at least two teams desperate for stability in their quarterback room. They are in dire need of help developing their young franchise passers, and he is being sought as a player/mentor. Specifically, the Jets and Jaguars were mentioned by La Canfora as potential landing spots.
Josh McCown has played for an incredible 12 different teams during his career. He was drafted in the third round of the 2002 draft by the Arizona Cardinals (nearly Trevor Lawrence’s entire life ago). He has been a journeyman to say the least.
However, he has been one of the more reliable backups in the NFL for nearly two decades. He even showed brief flashes of great play during his career. Highlights included a 13 to 1 interception ratio in five starts for the Bears in 2013 (which bought him an unsuccessful run as a starter in Tampa Bay, in which he went 1-10). He also put up a surprisingly effective campaign on a bad Jets team in 2017, in which he started 13 games, went 5-8, and finished with 18 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions. Call him Fitzmagic Lite.
The Locker Room Leader
That said, the 42-year-old signal caller clearly isn’t being recruited for his cannon arm at this stage of his career (which seemed over just days ago). A team that signs him will do so hoping that he never sees the field. Instead, he is being looked at because he has the reputation of being one of the best locker room personalities and quarterback mentors in recent league history. This is the same skillset that got him such early consideration for an NFL head coaching job despite his complete lack of experience (granted, it was from a Jack Easterby-led Houston Texans dumpster fire). He is widely expected to become an NFL head coach sooner than later.
This year’s crop of rookie quarterbacks is expected to be a generational one. However, there are several young signal-callers who have been thrown to the wolves on bad teams. These young stars need guidance and support or they could risk going the way of Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago, or far worse, Josh Rosen everywhere else.
Enter Josh McCown. Let’s take a look at the two teams linked to McCown at this point, and why he would actually be a great addition for both.
The New York Jets
Zach Wilson finally showed a glimmer of his massive potential in the Jets’ week four overtime win over the Titans. He finished with 297 yards passing, two touchdowns to just one interception, and one of the most impressive 60-yard bombs of the early season. It was the potential for these big plays and big performances that made the Jets take him with the second overall pick in this year’s draft.
However, his rookie season as a whole has been brutal. He now has four touchdowns to eight interceptions on the year. He has completed just 56.8% of his passes. When the Jets have been bad, they have been the worst team in the league by a long shot. The only other quarterback on the Jets’ active roster is 26-year-old Mike White, who has never thrown an NFL pass. Hardly a beacon of support in the quarterback room. Any influence White may have would be a case of the blind leading the blind.
To help ensure Zach Wilson doesn’t become the latest talented young quarterback to watch his career crumble at the hands of an inept, losing franchise, bringing in a positive, calming veteran influence to the quarterback room could be key. Because the Jets are, well, the Jets, they did not address this need during the offseason. Fortunately, it is not too late.
This would not even be the first time McCown has played a mentor role for Gang Green. He spent the majority of the 2018 season backing up and mentoring Sam Darnold during Darnold’s rookie year. Darnold showed a great deal of potential that year despite the usual rookie growing pains. However, he gradually regressed after McCown departed in 2019 and eventually was run out of town following the dark ages of Adam Gase. Fortunately for Darnold, he is finding immediate success with his second chance in Carolina.
McCown could be a great influence on not only Zach Wilson, but the young, inexperience coaching staff in New York. Robert Saleh is highly respected and seems to have the makings of a good head coach. But at this point, he can use all the help he can get.
The Jacksonville Jaguars
You could essentially copy/paste much of the previous section here.
The Jaguars are young team lacking in talent throughout their roster, but with a potential generational talent at quarterback. This year’s top overall pick Trevor Lawrence has looked great at times and lost at others. Lawrence has thrown five touchdowns to seven interceptions but has done his best to keep his team even remotely competitive. Unfortunately, it has been for naut. The team is 0-4.
They have a first-year NFL coach in Urban Meyer (despite his extensive college coaching experience) who his dealing with major growing pains and is in danger of becoming a laughingstock. While their backup quarterback C.J. Beathard has considerably more experience than the Jets’ Mike White, he is still hardly the calming veteran influence that Lawrence needs to help guide him through his rookie year. Josh McCown could fill that role perfectly.
As Meyer deals with the latest of his early-career controversies, leaked footage of him partying hard with a young woman very much not his wife, this team could use Josh McCown’s maturity and stability now more than ever.
The Coach, The Proud Dad
Unfortunately, either team will have to wait at least a month for McCown’s services. McCown is dead set on coaching his son’s high school team through the end of their season in November. That would make McCown available somewhere around Week 9.
However, his leadership and maturity would be worth the wait for either of these young teams as their rookie coaches and quarterbacks find their footing.
More to come.