EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Luke McCown's 1.8 quarterback rating is more like what a frat boy would blow into a breathalyzer then an actual rating for an NFL quarterback. For the Jaguars quarterback, whom we're assuming was sober for Sunday afternoon's game, being drunk would explain his subpar performance and in particular his four interceptions in a 32-3 loss to the Jets.
The putrid performance by McCown, who was 6-for-19 for 59 yards with four interceptions, may in fact be a blessing in disguise. The battle may have already been lost when Blaine Gabbert entered in the fourth quarter for his NFL debut, but the war looks like one he can clearly help them win.
McCown's performance necessitated the change as the Jacksonville offense had just a Josh Scobee 55-yard field goal in the first quarter to show for its efforts. When asked about his performance, McCown seemed surprised at the poor display.
"It was one of those deals where it was nothing they were doing. I was just off today," McCown said. "I'm not the first guy that's had a day like this and I am probably not the last. I have to be better. The frustrating part is we had such a great week of practice, including myself, probably one of the best I've ever had in terms of preparing. So to come out and have the day that we had, it's frustrating."
But after four interceptions and leading Jacksonville to just a field goal, it seems absurd for McCown to bring up practice.
Practice? We're talking about practice? Really? Practice?
Unfortunately for McCown, he was hurt by injuries to offense which hit his line and receivers, making his afternoon an uphill battle from the get-go. After spending a week trash-talking about Darrelle Revis, calling the Jets quarterback over-rated, Jaguars wide receiver Jason Hill sat out Sunday with a hip injury.
"So sad - I'm in tears," Revis said. "Because if you do trash talk, you've got to be able to back it up. He wasn't out there, so I guess he's got that New York Jets flu or something."
If there was any buzz coming from the Jaguars sideline on Sunday, it was because of their rookie quarterback, who looked every bit the veteran when he finally came into the game.
In just two series, Gabbert showed the stuff that made him the center of Heisman talk last fall at Missouri and the No. 10 pick in this past spring's NFL Draft. He was 5-for-6 for 52 yards and his 102.8 quarterback rating was closer to a fever then McCown's life support performance.
"I was just ready to go play ball," Gabbert said. "I just wanted to get out there and have fun, move the team up and down the field and try to get some points."
Gabbert showed well enough in the fourth quarter to give hopes that he can provide some stability under center for Jacksonville. With just a week to go before the start of the season, David Garrard was cut by the Jaguars, making McCown the starter as Gabbert deemed not yet ready for primetime.
That may not be the case now.
A strong showing on Sunday afternoon, even if it was just a handful of throws, means that there is once again a quarterback controversy in northeast Florida. Head coach Jack Del Rio said that no decision has been made on Gabbert and whether he will assume the starting role next Sunday.
"I'm going to be ready, there's no question about that," Gabbert said. "We did a lot of positive things and we're going to come back strong next week."
That is of course, unless McCown has another strong week of practice.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer