Jets quarterback Josh McCown will miss the remainder of the season after breaking his left hand Sunday in Denver. After McCown received further tests Monday, head coach Todd Bowles told reporters the veteran will need surgery.
"He meant a lot. His leadership meant a lot," Bowles said. "From the time he walked in the door, just always doing the right thing, saying the right things and helping everybody on the team. Not just offensively, but defensively, as well.
"Not to mention that he's made some plays on the field that've helped us out," he added. "Lined everybody up, especially the new receivers coming in and having to play right away on short weeks' notice. He got those guys lined up and made everybody effective. We just have to move on from there."
McCown suffered the injury in the third quarter of Sunday's 23-0 loss when Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray hit him following a pass to running back Matt Forte. In his postgame press conference, McCown said something bent when he was hit and he knew when it happened that something wasn't right.
The 38-year-old threw for 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions through 14 games while completing 67.3% of his passes, which ranked No. 3 in the NFL. He also rushed for five scores, which is tied for first among quarterbacks.
"The type of season he's been having and just his presence as a leader in the locker room and our offense was huge," said wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who is tied for the team lead with 52 receptions. "To lose him, it definitely sucks. But it's the next man up. We have three games left."
With McCown out of the mix, third-year signal caller Bryce Petty will start in Week 15 against the Saints.
"He's been taking notes on the sidelines," Bowles said. "He understands when it's going to come, but it's an opportunity for him. He'll get the majority of the reps this week. He'll be well prepared to play come again on Sunday. He knows he has an opportunity to step up and make plays and we look forward to seeing him play."
Petty played in six games (four starts) last season for the Jets and threw for 809 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The 6'3", 230-pounder relieved McCown twice Sunday but entered the game for good with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter. With the Green & White down 20, playing against the NFL's No. 4 ranked pass defense, Petty finished 2-of-9 for 14 yards.
The Baylor product first entered Sunday's contest in the second quarter when McCown took two plays off following a hard hit to the midsection. On his first snap of the season, Petty hit fullback Lawrence Thomas for a 7-yard completion, followed by a 12-yard connection to reserve tight end Neal Sterling. However, an illegal formation penalty pushed the Jets back and McCown returned.
"I have all the confidence in the world in Bryce," center Wes Johnson said. "He's great in the huddle and he's great in the locker room. He works hard, he prepared like he's the starter every week, so I'm not worried about him at all. I'm actually excited for the opportunity he could get."
Bowles said the Jets could add another arm and will make a decision by Wednesday's practice. With Petty's promotion, second-year quarterback Christian Hackenberg will back him up and Bowles is comfortable if Hackenberg's number is called.
"He'll get reps this week too," he said. "Both of the guys have to be ready, and they'll be ready."