If “Dandy Don” Meredith were still with us today, he would certainly begin crooning that famous line in Willie Nelson’s “The Party’s Over” in memoriam to the Jets’ season.
Following yesterday’ demoralizing 9-6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the sleepy field goal fest at MetLife Stadium sank New York to 3-7, losers of two straight, and heading into the bye week with questions at the quarterback position.
Head coach Todd Bowles will undoubtedly face a plethora of queries about who will start against the New England Patriots (7-2) following their week off, but there really shouldn’t be much question, because Bryce Petty should get another crack at the starting gig. Petty wasn’t spectacular in his first career start, and he did duplicate what regular starter Ryan Fitzpatrick has seemingly trademarked -- a late game-ending interception -- but he acquitted himself enough to earn a second chance from Bowles.
Of course, if Fitzpatrick’s sprained MCL continues to cause issues heading into the week of preparation for New England, then Bowles will once again receive a nice and tidy excuse to go back to the kid. But for now, the coach was noncommittal about who will get the call in two weeks.
“We’ll evaluate that next week as we go forward. We have a bye week to evaluate it and I’ll see how Fitz feels. We’ll watch the film on Bryce and make a determination middle of next week. He made some good throws. He’s got some growing pains, [but] just being out there for the first time from a composure standpoint, he was fine. He was calm, poised, [and] understood his reads. He just has to clean up a few things. For the most part, other than the one turnover he played OK,” Bowles reasoned, while declining to look at the long-term pros and cons of starting Petty again. “We’re still trying to play the best player right now and win ball games. We have time to evaluate, so I’m not naming anybody going forward. I’ll look at the film again and see how Ryan is feeling and go from there. And if it’s Bryce, it’s Bryce. If it’s Fitz, it’s Fitz.”
But even if Fitzpatrick is healthy and able, Petty should be the guy. Petty went 19-of-32 for 163 yards, a gimmicky hook-and-lateral touchdown, and the late interception. And while those numbers don’t jump out, he received very little help on offense, outside of his running backs Matt Forte (98 rushing yards) and Bilal Powell (89 total yards and a touchdown). The former Baylor star, known for prolific passing numbers and a gunslinger mentality while in Waco, was hamstrung by conservative play calling and a lack of weapons that aided in the offense punting eight times in 11 possessions. He did show promise by starting hot (11-of-14 and a touchdown) in the first half, and even led a 99-yard scoring drive – the first of its kind by a Jets’ offense since 1995. Petty was four then.
That scoring drive was set up by Petty’s precise pass to rookie Robbie Anderson, down the left sideline for a 52-yard gain. The ball was dropped in a bucket, as scouts like to say, showing just how talented the second-year passer is. Bowles just needs to allow the neophyte to tap into that potential by giving him another start – even if it will be against mastermind Bill Belichick.
The more Petty plays, the better off both he and the Jets will be. Either he’ll show enough promise to let the Jets seriously consider making him the No. 1 guy heading into next season, or the team can see he may not have what it takes, and get in line to select one of the star quarterbacks coming out of college for next season’s draft. Rookie Christian Hackenberg will also be on the roster, next season, but judging by many coach assessments, the lack of practice reps he’s gotten, and the fact he’s been inactive in all 10 games so far, shows he’s not yet in the immediate plans to start.
But if Petty is allowed to play out the string, and somewhat shine down the stretch, the Jets may actually have a glimmer of hope heading into next season – because this season’s lights have already been turned out.
Gang Green notes:
- Anderson’s 52-yard reception was the longest of his career. His 69 yards receiving – all in the first half – were also a single-game career high.
- Petty became the third quarterback to start for the Jets this season, and the 29th since Joe Namath last played with the Jets in 1976. The other signal caller was the already-forgotten Geno Smith, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the second quarter of his very first start of the season, in Week 7.