FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Todd Bowles has a secret — and he’s not letting on at all.
The only thing is, everyone has a pretty good idea what it is.
The New York Jets coach won’t say who his starting quarterback will be this season, despite all signs appearing to point to rookie Sam Darnold.
“I definitely won’t do it today,” Bowles said Sunday of an official announcement. “Sometime next week … maybe.”
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Darnold has started New York’s past two preseason games and appears to be the front-runner in the competition that includes incumbent Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. The No. 3 overall draft pick has been solid this summer, impressing coaches and teammates with his decision-making and ability to quickly digest the playbook.
“As coaches, we’ll meet on it and keep meeting on it,” Bowles said. “I have my ideas in my head, which I’ll keep to myself at this point.
“But, I have a good idea.”
Bowles insisted that the decision is not something he’s even struggling with. No lost moments of sleep while juggling his signal callers in his mind.
“Not really,” he said. “No.”
To anyone watching the Jets throughout training camp and the preseason, it would be a surprise if Darnold isn’t under center when New York opens the regular season at Detroit on Sept. 10. It would seem unlikely that Darnold will get much, if any, time on the field in the preseason finale Thursday night at Philadelphia — the game when starters typically sit out.
After missing the first three days of camp while getting his contract hammered out, Darnold quickly caught up to his teammates on the field. He was third in the rotation in the preseason opener against Atlanta, but opened the past two games with the starting offense.
Bowles said he has not told any of the players yet who the starting quarterback will be. And that’s OK, as far as Darnold is concerned.
“I’m not really going about my day any different than I would,” Darnold said. “I’m still continuing in practice to take advantage of every opportunity I get to play football and to be able to play this position. And, continuing to do my thing and trying to be as consistent as possible and go about it that way.”
From a numbers standpoint, Darnold hasn’t necessarily been eye-popping this preseason. He’s 29 of 45 for 244 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
It’s the veteran-like way he has handled situations in the games that has been promising. Darnold has displayed an ability to make plays when the pocket collapses, while also being smart with the football.
“I mean, I wouldn’t be disappointed and I wouldn’t be surprised,” Darnold said of the possibility he isn’t named the starter.
“Throughout my short career playing football, I’ve seen a lot of things,” he added. “Teddy and Josh are great players, so I wouldn’t be surprised. At the same time, every quarterback wants to play, but that’s not my job to put the best player out there. That’s Coach’s job. Whether that’s Josh, whether that’s Teddy, whether that’s me, we’re just going to go out there and do the best we can.”
Bridgewater has perhaps outplayed Darnold, just based on statistics, going 28 of 38 for 316 yards and two TDs and one interception. But it seems the veteran, who has proven he’s healthy two years after a devastating knee injury, will be a backup — that is, if he’s not traded.
“I’m living in the now,” Bridgewater said. “I’m taking advantage of this opportunity I have right now.”
Meanwhile, McCown has thrown just one pass, a 4-yard completion, in one series this preseason. It was similar to last summer when the 39-year-old veteran got limited work while the Jets evaluated their young QBs. McCown still ended up being the starter when neither Christian Hackenberg nor Bryce Petty distinguished himself.
This year, though, Darnold and Bridgewater have given Bowles and his coaches plenty to consider.
“I don’t think it happens in a week,” Bowles said of the decision. “It happens throughout the course of the spring and summer. I’ll always get their opinion. This is not a state-of-the-union-type of thing. I think they have a feel for where I am from a coaching standpoint and you tell the players when you tell the players and kind of go from there.”
NOTES: Bowles said WR Jermaine Kearse (abdomen) is considered “day to day, week to week.” It’s uncertain if Kearse, who led the team with 65 catches last season, will be ready for the season opener. … Second-year RB Elijah McGuire (foot) won’t be ready for the start of the regular season and Bowles wouldn’t rule out putting him on short-term IR.
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