Jets must let Bryce Petty play rest of season to begin QB search

Somewhere between the slop and ineptitude that stained an otherwise beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon, the Jets begrudgingly made this admission: It’s time to begin their search for a franchise quarterback in earnest.

Todd Bowles didn’t make any official announcements following his team’s 9-6 loss to the lowly Rams, but he didn’t really have to, did he? Bryce Petty is officially on the clock as this star-crossed franchise continues its painstaking search for someone to man the most important position in team sports.

The head coach maintained that Ryan Fitzpatrick would have started if not for a sprained MCL that hampered him in practice during the week, but that matters little now. The Jets must give Petty fair chance to stake his claim to the job over the final two months of the season before determining how to proceed next year.

Bowles may have been holding out for a miracle, but his squad’s seventh loss was a death knell. Forget about the playoffs, Coach.

Jets’ Richardon not ready to ‘roll over and take it’ after loss

This season has flat-lined. Roll it out on a gurney. It’s time to figure out the organization’s most maddening puzzle now. It’s time to find out if this second-year signal caller has the goods.

“I’m just trying to play the best player right now and win ball games,” Bowles said. “If it’s Bryce, it’s Bryce. If it’s Fitz, it’s Fitz.”

In a vacuum, it’s a no-brainer. Fitzpatrick is the superior player at the moment, but the only logical move left is to play the younger quarterback. Petty’s audition will help the brain trust chart the best course of action in the offseason. If Petty wows, the 2017 starting gig will belong to him. The picture, of course, is muddied if he either flops or is nothing more than average.

It's time for the Jets to give Bryce Petty a shot and see if he can be their quarterback of the future.

It’s time for the Jets to give Bryce Petty a shot and see if he can be their quarterback of the future.

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

“It’s a learning process,” said Petty, who went 19 for 32 for 163 yards with a touchdown and interception. “Just lay the foundation today. I’m looking forward to the future and what’s next.”

Jets’ Richardon not ready to ‘roll over and take it’ after loss

His immediate future should include a primetime start against the Patriots after the Jets return from their bye. Although Bowles said that he’ll “evaluate everything next week” and “see how Ryan is feeling,” what sense would it make now to turn to Fitzpatrick, who will be a free agent next year, with the playoffs out of reach?

Petty showed early flashes before struggling in the second half. The Jets punted eight times on 11 drives. In a game that featured 15 total punts, a missed extra point and a grand total of one touchdown, Petty’s beautifully thrown 52-yard pass to Robby Anderson on a nine-play, 99-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter was the longest play from scrimmage. The Jets capped the scoring drive with Petty’s first career touchdown: A four-yard hook and lateral from Brandon Marshall to Bilal Powell to give the Jets their only lead of the game. Nick Folk ruined the mood by missing the extra point.

“With the talent that this team had, we definitely have underachieved,” said Matt Forte (20 carries for 98 yards). “That’s the most disappointing part. I feel this team is so talented but hasn’t shown it. We got to find ways to win games. I feel like today we found a way to lose it.”

Chan Gailey’s trickery near the goal line aside, he had a relatively conservative game plan for Petty in his first start. The Jets curiously dialed up a run for Forte on 3rd and 10 from their own 38 in the second quarter. They also handed off to Powell rather than try a Hail Mary from their own 45 on the final play of the first half.

Bryce Petty fails to wake Jets from slumber in 9-6 loss to Rams

Nine of Petty’s 19 completions went to running backs. He admittedly checked down too much.

Ryan Fitzpatrick may be the better quarterback, but it doesn't make much sense to play him.

Ryan Fitzpatrick may be the better quarterback, but it doesn’t make much sense to play him.

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

“He was calm,” Bowles said.

Petty has the requisite skills to succeed, but don’t expect a meteoric rise. It’ll take time… if it’s ever going to happen. He overthrew a wide-open Anderson on a busted coverage for should have been a 68-yard touchdown late in the first half.

“Those are the plays in this kind of game that you have to make,” Petty said. “And I missed it.”

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He’ll make those plays in the future. He’ll miss some too. It’s a part of growing up in the NFL. This is only the beginning of his journey.

“Shoot, I wouldn’t be a competitor if I didn’t want another (start),” Petty said. “There’s definitely a drive and hunger that’s never stopped. Never will. You have to understand your role and understand timing. I’ve had a good amount of patience throughout my athletic career.”

It’s his time now. The Jets are keeping their fingers crossed that he’ll make the most of it.

Tags:
nfl
new york jets
los angeles rams
bryce petty
ryan fitzpatrick
todd bowles

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