When you watch the New York Jets offense trot onto the field Sunday and see that quarterback Josh McCown is leading them, you might think: “My gosh, that guy is still around?!”
And you would be justified in doing so. McCown is 38 years old, and he’s kicked around the NFL so long that the Jets are his eighth NFL team. The Carolina Panthers were one of those eight, although McCown only threw six career passes for Carolina (completing just one) in a thoroughly forgettable stint as Jake Delhomme’s backup in 2008 and 2009.
McCown would seem like an easy out for Carolina – after all, his career record as an NFL starter is 22-48. But he actually has a better quarterback rating this season than Cam Newton and is completing 69 percent of his passes.
And although he’s 0-4 in his career against Carolina, McCown once threw for 398 yards against the Panthers while with Arizona in 2005 – still the fourth-best total ever by an opposing quarterback.
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▪ The Panthers and Jets have only played six times and don’t have a lot of history. But longtime Carolina fans will always remember the Jets fondly for providing the team’s first-ever win in on Oct. 15, 1995, when an 0-5 Carolina team beat the Jets 26-15 at Clemson. The biggest play in that game? Linebacker Sam Mills’ 36-yard touchdown return of a Bubby Brister shovel pass.
▪ Speaking of Panthers history, former Carolina sackmeister Kevin Greene is now an assistant coach for the Jets.
▪ And speaking one more time about Panthers history, no Carolina running back has ever gone over 100 yards against the Jets. The closest? Derrick Moore, in that 1995 win, with 93.
Moore was one of my favorite early Panthers, in part because of his honesty. He made no bones about the fact that he loved “The Sound of Music” movie and that he occasionally sang “My Favorite Things” to himself when he was feeling down.
▪ If Julius Peppers sacks McCown Sunday, that will be a seriously ancient sack. Peppers, 37, has been chasing McCown for years. They both were part of the draft class of 2002 – Peppers picked No. 2 overall and McCown No. 85. They are two of the three active NFL players remaining from that class – the only other one is Dwight Freeney, who is winding down his career in Detroit.
▪ Prediction time. I improved to a pedestrian 6-4 on the season by picking Carolina to beat the Miami Dolphins in the Panthers’ last game.
I foresee the Panthers – who have been good on the road almost all season – winning again Sunday against a very mediocre Jets team. The only way it doesn’t happen is if Carolina turns the ball over at least three times.
My pick: Carolina 30, N.J. Jets 17.
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