One of the biggest stories of the New York Jets off-season has been the quarterback situation. Before training camp, it was a matter of signing Ryan Fitzpatrick. Shortly into training camp Fitzpatrick was signed. The question then became what do the Jets do with the four quarterbacks on their team? Fitzpatrick is clearly the starter and isn’t going anywhere. Christian Hackenberg was chosen with the Jets second-round pick in the 2016 draft, so it is far too early to give up on him. The other two quarterbacks are Geno Smith and Bryce Petty.
While Smith struggled in his first two years as a starter and only backed-up last year, he is the only quarterback on the depth chart with NFL experience aside from Fitzpatrick. That made Petty the odd man out originally. However with his spectacular performance in the Jets preseason matchup with the Washington Redskins, many fans and experts are calling for Petty to be the backup. While Petty performed greatly, the Jets must be careful before naming him the backup.
The New York Jets Should be Cautiously Optimistic with Bryce Petty
Bryce Petty’s Turning Point
In preseason Week One, Fitzpatrick, Smith, and Petty all got a chance to play. Smith and Petty played most of the game and both had decent performances. Smith went 8-for-14 with 79 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions ,for a 97.0 quarterback rating. Petty went 7-for-14 with 93 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, for a 71.4 quarterback rating. Smith did slightly better, but neither vastly outdid the other. That prevented most people from saying Petty should unseat Smith as the team’s backup.
Preseason Week Two was Petty’s turning point. Smith had a sub-par game as he went 6-for-13 with 47 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception, for a 23.6 quarterback rating. Petty clearly outdid Smith. He went 16-for-26 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, for a 117.8 quarterback rating. This has been calling many fans and experts to name Petty the backup. Manish Mehta, Jets insider for the New York Daily News, is one of those voices. He sung Petty’s praises after seeing his performance against Washington.
Let’s get real: Bryce Petty should make the roster.
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 20, 2016
Mehta continued on about Petty in his article for the New York Daily News. He wrote that Petty earned a roster spot and deserves to have a shot at the number two spot.
It was Only One Game
People should be very careful before naming Bryce Petty the backup. It was one game. Also it was only a preseason game. Furthermore, Petty played against backups, third-stringers, practice squad players, and players who won’t be with an NFL team in a couple of weeks. Robby Anderson, a receiver who may not even make the team, had 131 yards and one touchdown in the same game. That didn’t put him in a conversation to overtake Quincy Enunwa‘s spot or even another receiver’s spot lower in the depth chart, even though his performance was spectacular.
This does not mean that Petty’s game was worthless and that it shouldn’t cause the front office to give him a hard look. At the same time, it shouldn’t be the reason to anoint him as backup just yet.
Geno Smith Has Had Better Games
It is true that Geno Smith played poorly for a majority of his career. However, he did not have the types of receivers that Ryan Fitzpatrick had last season and will have this season. Even in these latest preseason games, Smith hasn’t worked with all the starters. If people want to base success off one game, then look no further than Smith.
In Week Five of 2013, the Jets played the Atlanta Falcons. Smith went 16-for-20 with 199 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 147.7 quarterback rating. Some may say that was a while ago, which is true. Fast forward to Smith’s last start in the NFL. In Week 17 of 2014, the Jets played the Miami Dolphins. Smith performed even better in that game as he went 20-for-25 with 358 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. The examples mentioned are just two games in which Smith’s performance was better than Bryce Petty’s performance against Washington. There are other games that Smith did well in too. Fourteen of Smith’s 31 career games resulted in a 80.6 quarterback rating or better. That includes the last five games he has played, spanning the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Wait Before Making a Hasty Decision
The difference between Geno Smith’s good games begin forgotten compared to Bryce Petty’s good game being focused on, is that Smith’s games did not happen recently. People usually put emphasis on the most recent games. Another possible reason people are calling for Petty to backup after one start is because football is finally back after six months. This football deprivation causes many to put more emphasis on a small sample size of play whether they know it or not.
It is very tempting to make a decision now, but what if Petty throws four interceptions in his next game and Smith throws four touchdowns?
What the Jets Should Do
There are two preseason games left. Time may be running low, but there are still more games to be played. Simply, the Jets should keep an open mind and let the situation resolve itself. Geno Smith and Bryce Petty shouldn’t be entitled to anything. Whoever outperforms the other should be the backup quarterback. The other player should be cut or traded if possible.
The Jets can keep four quarterbacks, but it is not be the best idea. It is very unlikely that the number three or number four quarterbacks would get any playing time this year. It is also possible that all three of Hackenberg, Smith, and Petty won’t get any playing time this year. It’s not a great idea to waste roster space on players that won’t be contributing during the season. If Petty performs better than Smith in the next two games, then he has a case to be the backup. The same goes for Smith if he performs better than Petty. Simply put, the Jets should wait and not jump to conclusions. Concluding that Petty is better after one preseason game, is not the way to go.