FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Josh McCown, who played for the Oakland Raiders in 2007, tells a great Al Davis story -- one that could be applied this week as his current team attempts to generate some offense against the Silver & Black.
McCown, standing in the middle of the New York Jets locker room on Wednesday, recalled a conversation with the Raiders' late patriarch after a preseason game. It concerned a seemingly innocuous play, a second-and-1 completion to the flat. He had had two options: the flat or a corner route. He opted for the safe pass, resulting in a first down.
"After the game, I'm putting stuff in my car and this Lincoln Town Car pulls up, tinted windows," McCown told ESPN.com. "The back-seat window goes down. It was like something out of 'The Godfather.'
"He goes, 'Hey, McCown,'" said the quarterback, shifting into his throaty, Davis impersonation.
McCown walked over to the car.
"Hey, Mr. Davis."
"The second quarter, you threw the ball to the flat. Why did you throw to the flat? Who's telling you to throw to the flat?"
"That's part of my read," McCown told Davis. "On second-and-1, I was just looking to get a first down."
"You had [John] Madsen on a corner route."
"We're the Rai-dahs," Davis said to him. "Throw the ball down the field."
The window went up, and the Lincoln drove off.
"I'll never forget that," McCown said, smiling now.
The classic anecdote is relevant this week because McCown made a lot of safe passes in the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills, and now the Jets are talking about being more aggressive on offense.
"We're definitely going to try to be," coach Todd Bowles said.
Of McCown's 39 attempts in Week 1, only one traveled more than 20 yards in the air -- an incompletion. He passed for 187 yards, averaging only 4.8 yards per attempt -- less than what Bills running back LeSean McCoy averaged on the ground (5.0). You cannot win football games with those numbers.
It wasn't all McCown's fault, no way. The Bills played a lot of zone coverage, protecting against the deep ball. He took the underneath stuff, dinking and dunking all day. When they had man-to-man opportunities on the outside, the Jets couldn't capitalize because they don't have a proven game breaker on the perimeter. But there also was a sense around the team that McCown was too cautious at times.
If Bowles wants him to let 'er rip, McCown is cool with that.
"They have a good quarterback and they're going to score points," McCown said of the Raiders and Derek Carr. "It's what they do. I know our defense is going to do everything they can to hold them and shut them down, but ... part of being a balanced team is that if we need to rely on taking more chances and pushing the ball, we can do that. So we look forward to that part of it."
Better continuity should help the Jets. McCown had only a week to familiarize himself with wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and tight end Will Tye, who had the longest reception -- 21 yards. Another week of practice can't hurt.
It's hard to play winning football on a 20-yard field, but it's not impossible. Do you know how many times Carr threw over 20 yards in his season-opening win over the Tennessee Titans?
Unusual for the Rai-duhs.