Look for the New York Jets to open the season with a new quarterback – the fifth different opening-day starter in the last seven seasons.
So say the listeners and readers of the Talk of Fame Network, who voted in our weekly poll that Teddy Bridgewater would open the 2018 season for the Jets. Bridgewater received 51.5 percent of the vote to outdistance incumbent Josh McCown at 39.4 percent and first-round draft pick San Darnold at 9.1 percent.
Mark Sanchez opened the season at quarterback for the Jets in 2012, then Geno Smith started in both 2013 and 2014, followed by Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015 and 2016 and then McNown in 2017. Bridgewater signed with the Jets as a free agent this offseason, leaving the Minnesota Vikings.
A former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, the future looked bright for Bridgewater when he started as a rookie and passed for 2,919 yards and 14 touchdowns for a spot on the NFL all-rookie team. He was even better in 2015, passing for 3,231 yards and 14 TDs for his first Pro Bowl invitation. He steered the Vikings to 11 victories that season.
But Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL and dislocated kneecap in training camp of 2016 and missed all of that season and the first 15 games of the 2017 season. He made a token appearance in the season finale, throwing two passes.
The Vikings then signed Kirk Cousins in free agency this offseason and Bridgewater bolted for the Jets. Bridgewater has had 300-yard passing games in his brief career against the Cardinals, Falcons, Lions and Jets and a four-touchdown game against the Bears.
As usual, the hosts of the Talk of Fame Network disagreed with the voters –but reached rare agreement among themselves. Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge all voted McNown.
“Darnold isn’t ready, and Bridgewater hasn’t started a game in nearly three years,” Judge said. “So that leaves the guy behind door Number 3, and he just happens to be the incumbent. Makes too much sense not to happen.”
At 38, McCown is entering his 16th NFL season. He has played for eight teams and started games for six of them, including a career-high 13 for the Jets in 2017. He passed for a career-best 2,926 yards with 18 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. He threw for 354 yards in a game against AFC champion New England, 331 against AFC West champion Kansas City and 307 against NFC South wild-card Carolina.
Darnold was the third overall pick of the 2018 draft out of Southern Cal by the Jets.
“I like Darnold to finish,” Borges said, “but McCown to start. Frankly, if McCown can keep the Jets in the hunt, he may get to finish what he starts.”