Jets' three-way quarterback battle: Legit competition or charade?

Our New York Jets question of the week focuses on -- what else? -- the quarterback position.

@RichCimini: Yes and no. Allow me to explain.

Technically, yes, it's an open competition because three quarterbacks are taking an equal amount of practice reps, and that's the way it should be. There's no incumbent and no one whose credentials demand that he start, so coach Todd Bowles is doing the right thing by trying to sell everyone that it's open. Plus, it's good for the team. After last season's disaster, the more competition, the better.

Now let's talk reality.

We all know how this will turn out, and I think the Jets do, too: Josh McCown will prevail over Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty. McCown doesn't have a glittering résumé, but he knows how to manage a game, and the two young quarterbacks aren't there yet. Some people might call this competition a charade. I don't know if I'd go that far, only because McCown will be 38 and has lost 20 of his past 22 starts, but I'd install him as a heavy favorite.

Here's how I see it playing out:

By the end of minicamp in mid-June, McCown will be the clear-cut front-runner. The depth chart at the start of training camp will be McCown, Hackenberg and Petty, in that order, with little separation between Hackenberg and Petty. I think Bowles must pare the competition to two by the start of camp. With practice restrictions, there simply aren't enough reps to have a three-way battle. Even a two-man rotation can be cumbersome, especially when it comes to splitting playing time in preseason games.

The Jets will extend the competition as long as they can, giving Hackenberg some quality time in the first two preseason games to gain experience and build his confidence for down the road. In the end, Bowles will opt for the grizzled veteran because McCown gives the Jets the best chance to win. That might be unpopular among fans already thinking beyond 2017, but Bowles, on the hot seat, isn't about to turn the regular season into a 16-game preseason.

At some point, the Jets will turn to Hackenberg. As former Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick says, it'll be a game of musical quarterbacks. This time, they hope the right guy ends up with a chair.