Bryce Petty is making the most of his opportunity to show the Jets he belongs in their future plans.
One of the decisions Jets head coach Todd Bowles must make this summer is if his team should carry four quarterbacks on their roster this season. This is very rare to do in today’s NFL, however the Jets are in a very rare position.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter, the depth chart after him is Geno Smith, Petty, and Christian Hackenberg. If this was a game of spaids, Bowles basically has one sure thing and three possibles in his hand.
The Jets went on an emotional roller coaster during contract negotiations just to re-sign Fitzpatrick. He’s not just the unquestioned starter, he’s one of the team leaders.
Hackenberg was the Jets’ 2016 second round draft pick, teams don’t generally draft a quarterback that high just to cut him a few months later .
This leaves Smith and Petty.
A week ago Bowles didn’t appear ready to confirm if there’s a competition between Smith and Petty.
“Geno is number two right now,” said Bowles. “You’re not making any competition after one preseason game. Geno is number two. Fitz is number one. Bryce is three. Hack is four.”
Well the Jets have now played two preseason games, and it doesn’t appear anymore to be as simple as the one-two-three-four breakdown from Bowles.
If there wasn’t a competition for the backup quarterback position before, Petty made it one with his performance in the Jets’ 22-18 preseason loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Friday night.
In preseason it’s not about just winning the game, the emphasis is placed on conditioning, development and evaluation. The Jets gave Petty the keys to the car in the second half of the game and he led the team to three scoring drives.
Petty went 16 of 26 against the Redskins with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith only played three series in the first half, going 6 of 13 for 47 yards and an interception.
The interception by Smith was part of a mistake-filled performance which may have put his future with the Jets into jeopardy. It brought back flashbacks of his inconsistent play during his time as the team’s starting quarterback.
How Smith looked against the Redskins, Petty played the exact opposite. He made some nice throws and showed poise in the pocket and a better understanding of the gameplan.
Petty’s statement game may have been enough for Bowles to acknowledge he’s gotten the memo there’s now a competition to be the primary backup to Fitzpatrick.
“Every position is open,” said Bowles after the game.
Smith has game experience working for him, he started 29 games in his first two NFL seasons. He arguably would’ve been the starter last season had it not been for the unfortunate locker room incident which resulted in a broken jaw for him.
But Smith can’t just lean on his experience, his play against the Redskins was a step backwards. Teams around the league are paying attention to how he handles himself on and off the field.
Losing a chance to be the starting quarterback has to be tough for Smith, however it’s he’s not careful he could find himself completely on the outside looking in.
“We’re going to look at the film and evaluate it,” Bowles said. “It’s not just about the throws. It’s about the entire body of work and everything happens that happens in a game.”
Petty’s performance against the Redskins accomplished the goal of opening eyes around the team. He showed he’s worth the consideration of being the number two quarterback.