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Todd Bowles on Jets' quarterback situation: Three's company

Josh McCown and Sam Darnold took the first-team reps Tuesday. Seth Wenig/AP Photo

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- There's an old saying in football: If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. If you have three ... well, the saying doesn't cover three, but it's pretty much the same deal.

Todd Bowles has three, but he doesn't subscribe to that theory. He likes the chemistry in his quarterbacks room, calling it the best he has had in four years as the New York Jets' coach. He believes it will help the development of rookie Sam Darnold, which is priority No. 1 on the team's agenda.

"We think we have three good quarterbacks that we can play with," Bowles said Tuesday, referring to Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Darnold.

Let's unpack a couple of things from that comment.

First of all, I can't remember the last time a Jets coach expressed that much confidence in the quarterbacks. After all, this is a franchise that has struggled to find one good quarterback, let alone three. You have to believe Bowles means what he says because he doesn't toss around compliments frivolously.

The most important thing, though, is how it pertains to Darnold. The way Bowles described the three-man arrangement, it's the ideal incubator for their quarterback of the future.

"I think from a chemistry standpoint, with the three around each other, it's the most together [group] -- from an inexperience standpoint and a young-talent standpoint -- we've had in the room," Bowles said.

It was a four-man depth chart until last week, when the Jets traded Christian Hackenberg to the Oakland Raiders -- a wise move for both sides. He was dead weight in need of a fresh start. Now they have a old veteran in McCown, a young veteran in Bridgewater and a promising neophyte in Darnold -- an ideal balance across the age spectrum.

"I think it helps a great deal," Bowles said of the impact on Darnold. "He's kind of getting preseason reps right now. I think it's big for him. He can take the tips they're giving him and see the things they're doing going forward. When he gets to training camp, he won't have to think as much and he can go full-speed ahead."

Darnold has received plenty of work in the four OTA practices. On Tuesday, the second practice open to the media, the former USC star worked for the first time with the first-team offense. He got eight reps with the starters (20 total) and demonstrated better command than last week. Behind the No. 1 offensive line, he completed 4 of 5 passes, including a well-placed sideline throw to Robby Anderson, who made a toe-tapping stretch. The lone incomplete pass was a drop.

Bowles downplayed the significance of Darnold playing with the first team, claiming, "It's nothing to read into." For the record, McCown got 14 reps with the first team, Bridgewater none (he had 14 with the backups).

"He's been progressing," Bowles said of Darnold. "Obviously, he's seeing things on both sides of the ball for the first time. As the days go by, he's getting more comfortable. He has to keep working at it and getting better."

A lot can happen between now and Week 1. All three quarterbacks will have a shot at the starting job and, on the flip side, there's no guarantee all three will be on the opening-day roster. For now, though, the coach is happy.