Bowled Over: Todd’s Tough Choice on Backup QB

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

New York Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles has some big decisions to make ahead of Opening Day, and one of them is whether Matt Flynn or Josh Johnson will be the backup quarterback.

The Jets’ quarterback situation was changed drastically when Geno Smith had his jaw broken in a locker room fight on August 11th. This made Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter, and left the backup quarterback job up for grabs between Flynn and Johnson, with Bryce Petty also seeing action in the preseason. It is assumed Petty will be the third quarterback when the Jets open the season against Cleveland on September 13th.

In the preseason finale against the Eagles on Thursday, which the Jets won 24-18, Flynn played the first half and completed 10 out of 14 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns and an interception, while Johnson was 7-for-12 for 82 yards passing, with 76 yards rushing on seven carries.

Bowles said of Flynn and Johnson, “I thought they both came in and did a good job. Matt came in early on and started the game for us and made a heck of a throw on the touchdown play, put touch on it, which is hard to do because we ran it a couple times in a row. He threw the ball to the sideline pretty well. Josh came in, like I said, you know him, he can always run. But he threw some good passes as well. He finished the game for us. I thought they both did a good job.”

Bowles said of how tough this decision will be, “It’ll be tough. They bring just different dynamics to the game. One can run and make some throws and get out of the pocket. The other one can manage the game as well throw some timely balls and see the defenses. So, it’ll be tough. We’ll discuss it tonight. We’ve got some good players. It’ll be some hard cuts.”

Flynn said of how he thought he performed, “I think, for the most part, I think we did well. I mean the offense did well the entire game. The third down conversion percentage had to be really high. We ran a lot of plays. Overall, I feel good. I feel like I put my best foot forward and that’s all I can ask. I can rest my head on the pillow and sleep good tonight.”

Flynn said of learning an offense in two weeks and being evaluated on a half of a game, “You know, kind of being around and this being my eighth year, the pressure, you don’t feel as much pressure I don’t think. Yeah, there’s probably a lot riding on how you perform in this game, but you know, they also know what you can do despite the game. They want to see you go execute the offense. I just went out there and played. I didn’t look at as I have to go play well to be able to make the team. I just went out there and had fun. I mean I haven’t been out on the field in a long time. I tried to soak it all in and enjoy it.”

Johnson said of how he thought the game went, “We won, it went well (laughter). We won, that’s the most important thing. We were able to put a lot of drives together. Matt (Flynn) started us off with a great first half. He and the offense put up three scores, got us a nice lead and we were able to close it out.”

Johnson said of what the next day and a half will be like awaiting team cuts, “It’s the same as it’s been every year for me. For only two years out of my career I knew I was going to be on the team before cuts. I’ve been in this situation going on eight years now. Just handling it like I’ve been handling it each year. I feel like we did our part on the field, now it’s in God’s hands.”

Flynn said of how it felt to play the first half, ” It felt good. Hadn’t practiced a lot. This was my first week to full-on practice and it was a short week so it wasn’t like there were a ton of reps. It was interesting because there were a lot of plays that I ran today that I have never ran before and a lot of guys I was throwing to that I haven’t seen run routes. It was interesting, but it was fine. I told you all earlier this week that, that fourth game is always fun and it held up today.”

The highlight of Flynn’s night was his touchdown pass to Chris Owusu at the 5:01 mark of the first quarter. This capped an eight-play, 54-yard drive.

Flynn said of the TD pass to Owusu, “I hadn’t thrown that to him, I hadn’t thrown that route to him. But, he did a great job of inside releasing and reading the defense and taking it high. It was a great route. All I had to do was get it in his range.”

Flynn said of dropping the touchdown pass to Owusu over a defender, “Yeah, it was a good play. It was a good all-around play, protection, route, the throw was there. It was fun. It’s definitely fun to start out that way, being the first drive. You always want to start fast and we did.”

Johnson said to the question of if there’s enough time to do enough to make the team, “Realistically, no. But, you have to do what you have to do. That’s pretty much how the NFL is. It can be Week 15 and you can get signed off the street and play that Sunday in an important game. When you’re a part of this business, you know the importance of preparation and your job as a player is to prepare as much as you can, (take the coaching) as much as you can. The coaches do a great job here of being accessible and breaking things down to where you can try to go out there and pick up on things to be able (to) have (success).”

Johnson said of how he spends his time the day before cuts, “You play the game and you just chill, you just chill. It’s something that’s really out of your control. Only thing you can control is what you got out and do on the field. That last test was right now, so now it’s not up to me anymore.”

On when he stopped getting nervous about making teams, Johnson said, “I stopped getting nervous after my rookie year because I realized how much of a blessing this is to be in this opportunity. Just going around, there’s so many people who want the opportunity to just put on a jersey and walk out of this locker room. When you look at it that way, that takes a lot of nervousness out because you are blessed to have an opportunity that a lot of people wish they could have.”

Johnson said of being the leading rusher (76 yards on 7 carries) for the Jets on Thursday night, “It felt good. The coaches let me use my skillset a little bit, which was good. It allowed me to go out there and make some plays. I mean the way the O-line played, the running backs ran, a lot of credit goes to them because we were in manageable situations throughout the game. As a quarterback, that’s ideal for you. A big credit goes to those guys.”

On the depth of the team, Johnson said, “The depth is tremendous and it’s veteran depth with a nice addition of young guys. That’s one of the things I noticed when I first got here. There’s a lot of key veteran guys that bring along the young guys. The depth is what you ask for. Unfortunately, everybody can’t stay. But, I feel like this team, a lot of guys will be on NFL rosters.”


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