FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are in the midst of a youth movement so drastic that head coach Todd Bowles compared his squad to a college team this week in saying the Jets had a bunch of seniors exit and it's time for the underclassmen to perform.
So in this analogy, quarterback Josh McCown is either the resident advisor working on his second master's, the guy who went back to college 20 years after he graduated high school or someone who just really, really likes college life.
McCown, who turns 38 on July 4, would stand out for his wizened nature on any roster. But he'll really be an outlier on a Jets roster that has just four 30-somethings and is going extremely young at every position except, it appears, quarterback.
While Bowles has said the quarterback competition between McCown, third-year veteran Bryce Petty and 2016 second-rounder Christian Hackenberg is going to extend into training camp, it would be a surprise if Petty or Hackenberg - who have badly struggled in their limited NFL exposure - wins the Week-1 nod.
Asked why the Jets may rely on a veteran at quarterback, Bowles offered up a rare funny one-liner.
"Even when you go to kindergarten, somebody has to be the teacher," Bowles said.
McCown, who is just 18-42 as an NFL starter but has gained a reputation as a solid teammate while playing for seven franchises, has managed to embrace the mentor role while also relishing the competition.
"The cool thing with Christian, and Bryce as well, because of their skill set, there are some things available to them from a throwing standpoint that is fun to help them with and go 'This may not be something that's in my bag, but you got this, you can make this throw,'" McCown said. "They both ask great questions, and it's been fun because it keeps me sharp and it helps me improve as a player, as well."
McCown said he senses that spirited camaraderie within the other positions on the team, as well, and that chemistry will help the Jets exceed the minimal expectations everyone else has for them.
Such comments, of course aren't surprising. The Jets have to hope remaining on NFL campuses longer than anyone else gives McCown a perspective everyone else is missing.
"I like the way this group has come together this spring," McCown said. "It seems like a young team, but it's the right mix to me, because you do have the right veterans that are able to pull guys along and bring us together. I've really enjoyed this spring. It's been, for me, one of the more enjoyable ones, just because of how people have come together. I think there's great value in that sometimes."