Jets' quarterback competition gets weird ... and Todd Bowles clams up

Josh Mccown was 5-for-5 in his limited action during Wednesday's Jets practice. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For the second straight day, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty shared the majority of the quarterback reps, with Josh McCown reduced to a bit role on Wednesday. This is a curious way to conduct a competition, considering there's only one preseason game remaining for the starters.

Predictably, New York Jets coach Todd Bowles offered no insight, leaving us to decipher the strategy. It could be one of two things:

1. Bowles knows what McCown can do and wants to give Hackenberg and Petty as many reps as possible, perhaps even letting them play most of the game Saturday night against the New York Giants. The downside to this approach is that McCown will get shortchanged, which could come back to bite them if he's the Week 1 starter, as expected. He's a heady player, but even smart guys need game reps. So far, McCown has taken only seven snaps in the preseason.

2. Bowles is keeping his options open. He hasn't tipped his hand, refusing to give the edge to anyone. If you take his words at face value, it's still an open competition, which would mean Hackenberg still has a chance to be the Week 1 starter. That would be an all-time upset, considering the way he played last week in Detroit. Hackenberg would have to be lights-out against a very good Giants defense to warrant consideration, but don't be surprised if he gets first-team work in the game.

It doesn't have to be this confusing, of course, but the Jets send mixed messages. Bowles said the coaching staff won't decide this week's starter until Thursday night. Asked if all three will play, he said, "We'll sit down and talk about it."

Is there a chance Hackenberg could start?

"We've got to sit down and talk about it," Bowles said.

Any chance he'd rest McCown on Saturday night?

"We'll sit down and talk about it," he said. "It's still early."

On Wednesday, Hackenberg led the way with 19 reps, followed by Petty (15) and McCown (nine). A look at their day:


Wow moment: There weren't any great plays, but it was a solid day. In fact, he was 5-for-5 in his limited action. At the end of practice, he was the quarterback in a walk-through of a two-minute drill, perhaps an indication he'll be in the game at the end of the first half.

Whoa moment: With Hackenberg and Petty sharing most of the action, McCown had a brief soft-toss with tight end Jordan Leggett off to the side. On Tuesday, he decided to run gassers on his own -- his way of staying active.


Wow moment: Every so often, he provides a glimpse of promise -- and it happened on a deep fade route to rookie wide receiver Chad Hansen. Hackenberg showed great touch on his high-arching pass, dropping it in the bucket, as they say. All told, he was 14-for-17, but keep it mind those numbers were compiled against the scout-team defense. Ditto, McCown and Petty.

Whoa moment: Not on this day.


Wow moment: His encouraging outing in Detroit has resulted in an increased number of reps. Petty was sharp, completing 9 of 10 passes. "Bryce has been picking it up pretty good and getting more comfortable in it," Bowles said. "He's been throwing the ball downfield more. I do see that." His best throw was a frozen rope to Robby Anderson, who made a juggling catch.

Whoa moment: It was a clean day in terms of turnovers, as it was for all three quarterbacks.