Tricky quarterback question could loom on Jets' horizon

Josh McCown (15) watches Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold throw during the Jets' OTA on Tuesday. Seth Wenig/AP Photo

Reaching into the weekly mailbag to tackle some of the hot-button questions surrounding the New York Jets:

@RichCimini: Ding, ding, ding. Congratulations, Tyler, you just nailed what could become the most compelling question of the season. It's the old short-term-versus-long-term question that confronts just about every organization that invests a high pick in a quarterback.

Clearly, the Jets' future would be best served by giving Sam Darnold significant playing time, allowing him to work through the inevitable growing pains so he could be ready to roll from day one in 2019. But do you honestly think Todd Bowles would turn to the rookie if Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater is winning games? Not a chance.

Bowles lives in the week-to-week world of a head coach, meaning he treats every game as if it's Armageddon. When the coach is presiding over a franchise that has a seven-year playoff drought (he's responsible for the last three), he'll do everything possible to win now, the future be damned. Even if the folks in the front office want to see Darnold play, it's out of their control because Bowles has final say on the lineup.

The Jets could find themselves in the same situation that confronted the New York Giants in 2004. They were 5-4 under Kurt Warner but decided to bench him in favor of rookie Eli Manning, knowing it would cost them in the short term. And it did, as they lost six of their last seven games.

So far, the Jets organization appears to be on the same page, not wanting to rush Darnold, but the crucible of the regular season can create differing viewpoints.

@RichCimini: To answer your questions, let's consider the previous two offseasons.

In 2016, the Jets were immersed in the ridiculous Ryan Fitzpatrick contract saga, which posed a major distraction to the team. A year ago, the mood was tempered by the massive roster purge. So comparatively speaking, yes, the team is upbeat because it has more to be upbeat about. Most of the offseason narrative has focused on additions, not subtractions, and that usually leads to happy talk.

@RichCimini: Unfortunately, I don't. Devin Smith is attempting to rebound from his second ACL surgery and there are at least six wide receivers ahead of him on the depth chart (and that's a conservative guess). The other day, Bowles confirmed the obvious, saying Smith will sit out the remainder of the spring, which has only two weeks of practice left.

Smith has to be one of the unluckiest players in recent franchise history. The former second-round pick showed flashes of promise as a rookie in 2015, but he hasn't been able to stay on the field. It would be a surprise (and a heck of a comeback story) if he makes the opening-day roster, but I don't see that happening. Considering the extent of his injuries and the numbers at receiver, it wouldn't shock me if he doesn't make it to training camp.