Bill Cowher had one of the most successful seasons in NFL history with a rookie quarterback but the 2013 Jets aren’t the 2004 Steelers.

With that in mind Cowher said he believes the Jets should give Mark Sanchez the starting job and ease Geno Smith into a role on the team.

“It’s a work in progress to be honest with you” Cowher now an analyst with CBS said when asked if he thought the Jets had enough talent to support a rookie signal-caller.

“Some of those receivers have to step up. I like Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. I don’t think you have to be totally dependent on the running game but you have to lean on those guys and the offensive line and the defense to keep you in games.”

Smith will try and make that decision tougher for the Jets when he starts tomorrow night against the Giants. The second-round pick out of West Virginia has had an inconsistent offseason which has been slowed by an ankle injury suffered in the preseason opener against the Lions.

There is some thought the Jets are hoping to hand Smith the job if he shows some semblance of being ready in the annual preseason showdown at MetLife Stadium. But with coach Rex Ryan facing a make-or-break season in the final year of his contract he may opt to go with whomever gives him the best chance at winning now and not throw an unprepared Smith into the fire.

“The future will take care of itself” said Cowher whose Steelers went 15-1 with Ben Roethliserger at quarterback in 2004 before losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship. “The most important thing for any head coach is to give your football team a chance to win each week.

“No one is going to play someone at the expense of losing a game. What kind of message does that send to the rest of the players? I think the best thing for the future is to find a way to win games.”