Schott: Is Bryce Ready To Be Jets’ Backup QB?

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

The Jets cut veteran quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Josh Johnson on Saturday, leaving rookie Bryce Petty as the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

In the aftermath of the Jets’ preseason finale on Thursday, it appeared that Flynn or Johnson would be the backup, and Petty would be the third-string quarterback.

In that game against the Eagles, 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. Petty did not play.

The thinking after that game was that Petty would be the third-string quarterback, and Flynn or Johnson would be the backup to Fitzpatrick. Instead, both Flynn and Johnson were cut.

This is a shock considering that Flynn and Johnson were brought in, Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles said they would be insurance until Geno Smith returns, and there was little chance of Petty backing up Fitzpatrick in Week 1.

On Monday, Bowles gave an interesting response to the question of why he tried out Flynn and Johnson, as he said, “They were brought in late, and at the time, Ryan (Fitzpatrick) wasn’t totally healthy either and we needed a backup and wanted a contingency plan just in case something happened.”

On Fitzpatrick not being healthy when Flynn and Johnson came in, Bowles said, “Just being nicked up, just normal injuries and you didn’t want anything to happen to him so you have to have a contingency plan so you bring in some other guys.”

Petty was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of this year’s draft out of Baylor. He redshirted his freshman year, 2010, and then was the backup for the next two years. Petty became the starter in 2013, and he had a big year, throwing for 4,200 yards, completing 250 of 403 passes, with 32 touchdowns, and 14 rushing TDs. Last season, he threw for 3,855 yards on 270-for-428 passing, with 29 touchdowns, and had 6 rushing TDs.

Bowles said of what Petty did over the final two weeks of training camp to make the coaching staff comfortable naming him the backup, “Well, he didn’t play in the (New York) Giants game so it wasn’t his performance there. The other two guys we brought in so late and we had to take a look at them. Just judging by what we had to teach them, and what they had to learn, while going forward, Bryce had already known more because he’s been here longer, so that factored into a decision.”

On if it is a calculated risk having Petty as a backup and the comfort level if he did have to play, Bowles said, “Yes, I mean, Bryce has gotten better each week. To say that the other guys that came in so late would know more than him at that point in time, we would be lying. Bryce knows a little more than them. They have more experience than him, but not having a full grasp of the offense, you’d be getting pretty much the same thing so we just kept Bryce because we have a lot invested in him so we’re going to give him some reps.”

On how confident he is that Petty will remain the number two backup until Smith gets back, Bowles said, “Well he has to be. We only have two, so he’s going to remain number two until Geno gets back. Then he will slide to number three barring any injuries.”

Bowles said of Geno Smith possibly being back sooner than expected, “I don’t think so. He still has the jaw, he’s throwing non-contact, but he’s just throwing the ball. He can throw in shorts and a t-shirt. We still don’t have a better estimated time for him. Right now, it is as it is.”

Bowles then said Smith will be out four games, so the real question is, with Fitzpatrick and Petty, is Smith coming back to an 0-4 team?

On if they will add another quarterback before Smith is healthy, Bowles said, “Not at this time. We’ll go week-to-week and see how it goes.”

Bowles said of how Smith has handled the last month while being in an awkward spot, “I don’t think it’s an awkward spot. It’s football, at the end of the day things happen, and as a team you receive body blows and you move on. Whether he got hurt, whether somebody hit him or whether he tripped over something or he fell on the street when he broke his jaw, he broke his jaw. You deal with it at the time and move on. People got to get ready to play, you have to get healthy. He’s been fine.”


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