Jets quarterback Josh McCown suffered a broken left hand in Sunday's 23-0 loss to the Denver Broncos, head coach Todd Bowles told reporters.
McCown left the game late in the third quarter with the Jets trailing 20-0. He previously left the game in the first half after scrambling for a first down, but returned two plays later.
He walked off the field and underwent X-rays during the game. It is unclear if the injury will end McCown's season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. McCown will undergo further tests, Bowles said.
McCown was sacked four times, lost a fumble and threw an interception as the Jets fell to 5-8. He completed six of 12 passes for 46 yards.
The 38-year-old quarterback had started each game for the Jets this season, throwing for 300 yards and at least one touchdown in the past two games. Overall this season, he threw for 2,926 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Bryce Petty completed two of nine passes for 14 yards in McCown's absence.
Running back Elijah McGuire and long snapper Thomas Hennessy left the game due to respective ankle and head injuries. Tight end Eric Tomlinson replaced Hennessy at long snapper.
McCown's broken left hand is terrible news, both for the 38-year-old quarterback and for the spunky Jets team that has played unexpectedly well behind him. He's in the midst of one of his finest seasons, and it would be a shame if it ends this way.
But it also could lead to the Jets doing something they probably need to be doing anyway: getting a look at second-year pro Christian Hackenberg.
That, apparently, won't happen right away. Jets coach Todd Bowles indicated after the game that the backup Petty would be next up if McCown is unable to play in the final three games of the season. That makes sense, for the moment, since Petty has received all the second-team snaps in practice all season long.
But with three games left, one of them has to go to the 22-year-old Hackenberg, the Jets' second-round pick from 2016. That's a high pick - too high for a player to go through two full seasons without taking a single snap. The Jets obviously thought highly of his potential at one point. They really could use a look at that potential before they head into next year's draft.
Maybe it wouldn't make much of a difference at this point. The Jets probably are either going to dive deep into free agency for a guy like Kirk Cousins, or they're going to try to move up in the draft for someone like UCLA's Josh Rosen or USC's Sam Darnold. There's probably nothing a rusty Hackenberg can do in the final games to alter that plan.
That said, a small look is better than no look at all. It didn't make any sense to do that when the Jets were mathematically alive in the playoff race. But elimination is upon them, so it's time to look at the future. They saw Petty for four games last season and know he's not the franchise savior they've been waiting for all these years.
Hackenberg probably isn't either. But the Jets are the ones who jumped on him in the second round two drafts ago. They once saw something in him that no one else did. Maybe they were wrong. Before they make any big quarterback decisions, they'd be wise to try and find out for sure.