Fear of player revolt is why Bowles won't name Petty Jets starter

Todd Bowles’ curious refusal to name Bryce Petty the starting quarterback from this point forward makes a little more sense when you uncover the coach’s delicate balancing act.

There are rumblings on One Jets Drive that Bowles is concerned his team will check out if he plays the second-year signal caller against the Patriots on Nov. 27. There’s little debate that Ryan Fitzpatrick is better than Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg, but it’s fair to question the logic of playing a veteran quarterback who won’t be back next season for a 3-7 team that’s already out of the playoff picture.

The cold harsh truth is that Petty, for all the improvements that he’s made since entering the league from Baylor’s spread system, still has a very long way to go before gaining faith from the organization. Eye witnesses in practice believe Petty is still so far behind Fitzpatrick and that Bowles would lose credibility with his players if he went with the inferior signal caller with six games left in the season.

General manager Mike Maccagnan insisted this week that he’ll consult with Bowles, but the head coach will make the ultimate decision on the starting quarterback. The general manager and head coach are on parallel tracks in Woody Johnson’s power structure, so Maccagnan isn’t in a position to deliver an edict (which is another problem for a different day).

On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer: Give Petty a two-month audition to properly evaluate him before determining the best course of action in the offseason.

“You’d like to see young players play, but you also want to make sure they’re ready for that,” Maccagnan said. “It’s a more complicated decision than some people realize.”

“You think of different aspects when you decide on making a change, especially at that position, because it affects other players on the team, too,” the GM. added. “If you’re trying to determine what gives you the best chance to be successful, but also if you’re looking how players develop and progress, I think the point I would simply make is you just don’t do it. You don’t just wing it. … It’s not a decision you take lightly. You also want to make sure the player … is ready to a degree to set them up for success.”

Jets head Todd Bowles is fearful that naming Bryce Petty the staring quarterback over Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead to a revolt.

Jets head Todd Bowles is fearful that naming Bryce Petty the staring quarterback over Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead to a revolt.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Two-part translation: A) The brain-trust thinks Petty isn’t close to ready yet and B) They’re worried that some veterans will quit on Bowles if they don’t treat the quarterback position as a meritocracy.

Bowles has been maligned for various reasons during this forgettable season, but he’s no dummy. He knows that Fitzpatrick clearly gives him the best opportunity to win now, but the organization needs time to properly evaluate Petty. He shouldn’t even have to worry about players quitting on him. Alas, he does.

The concern in the building is that Petty won’t have the proper support from some veterans, who will mail it in. It’s a precarious position for Bowles, who, frankly, doesn’t need this headache right now.

Sure, true professionals should play hard no matter which choice the brain trust makes, but the reality is that some players will indeed quit if they believe that the organization has closed the book on 2016 with an eye on evaluating players for the future. (The Jets should get rid of those players when they reveal themselves in the coming weeks, by the way).

Bowles isn’t immune from criticism though. Ask yourself this question: If Fitzpatrick wasn’t healthy enough to start last week against the Rams, then why was he active at all? Why wasn’t Hackenberg the No. 2 quarterback behind Petty?

The answer: Hackenberg is light years away from being ready to play in a real game. Bowles, Maccagnan and just about everyone else in the organization knows and sees that. The rookie is not any kind of option at the moment.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has the edge on Bryce Petty in the talent department, but he’s not part of the Jets’ future.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has the edge on Bryce Petty in the talent department, but he’s not part of the Jets’ future.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

“We also want to make sure we don’t set a timetable in there to what he may eventually be,” Maccagnan said. “Our goal is to develop him. If he can fulfill his potential, then, obviously, that’s good for us.”

Holding your breath on this one is not recommended. It could be a while.

So, the Jets, who have started 29 quarterbacks since a guy in a fur coat delivered their one and only Super Bowl five decades ago, have a familiar conundrum. Petty and Hackenberg, who have one career start between them, are the only quarterbacks under contract for next season. Throwing them into the fire over the final two months would make perfect sense if not for some of the realities facing Bowles & Co.

“You’re kind of looking at short term and long term at the same time,” Maccagnan said. “I don’t necessarily think you’re locked into just saying, ‘Okay, let’s just go with the young guy and see what happens.’ At some point in time, we may decide to do that. You do want to set your players up for potential for success, too. It’s obviously a very difficult position to play.”

It becomes more difficult when players in your locker room aren’t on board with the decision.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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