Sam Darnold’s biggest cheerleader seems to be the guy whose job he might take.
New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown had a good season last year, and re-signed with the Jets in the offseason. The Jets also traded up to the third overall pick of the draft and selected Darnold out of USC.
Everyone, including McCown, knows what that means. Quarterbacks picked that high don’t sit long. McCown did play very well last season, but he just turned 39 years old on July 4. Even if McCown begins the season as Jets quarterback, it won’t last all season. And it’s possible Darnold takes his job before Week 1.
Unlike some other high-profile quarterbacks who have reportedly offered frosty receptions to their newly-drafted quarterback teammates, McCown is going out of his way to welcome Darnold.
Jets “have the right guy” with Darnold
McCown has been supportive of Darnold since the Jets drafted their newest quarterback. He has gone out of his way to praise the youngster, and did again in a radio interview.
“With Sam (Darnold), we have the right guy, he’s wired the right way, he loves the game, he asks the right questions and he’s willing to work … That’s the foundation, you have to have that,” McCown told SiriusXM NFL Radio.
First off, that’s wonderful for Jets fans to hear. Darnold was a fine pick at No. 3 overall, and perhaps he’s finally the one to stop the long-running carousel for the franchise at quarterback (for more on Darnold and the Jets’ quest to find a QB, read our team preview here).
It also offers some insight into McCown. It took forever for McCown to get his shot to start, and after perhaps his best season he’s going to have that opportunity yanked away. Yet, McCown has continuously complimented Darnold. It seems McCown might want to coach when he’s done, and perhaps he knows it will reflect well to his future employers if he helps Darnold. No matter the motivation, it’s a noteworthy gesture.
Roethlisberger, Flacco weren’t as eager to mentor
There’s no obligation for NFL quarterbacks to help rookies who want to take their job, and we’ve seen a couple of anti-McCown examples this offseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t seem too pleased the team drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round and had some chilly comments about it right after the draft. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco reportedly didn’t return messages to Lamar Jackson for a while after the Ravens took Jackson in the first round.
And that’s fine. Roethlisberger and Flacco aren’t paid to be quarterback coaches. Their job is to be ready to play for their teams. There seems to be an expectation for a veteran to be a good teammate and show a younger player the ropes, but that’s not fair to the veteran player. It’s a business and the new kid in the locker room is trying to take their job.
McCown doesn’t seem to mind, however. He seems to be embracing the mentor role. That’s good for the Jets. Down the road, it will probably pay off for McCown too.
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