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Bryce Petty should be main backup in 2016

By Hillary Garza
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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As the New York Jets hold a quarterback competition for the backup spot, quarterback Bryce Petty makes a lot of sense to be promoted since he has a promising future for the organization.

The New York Jets made the right decision in re-signing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to hold the fort down for the upcoming season. After all, his gritty determination and talent last season brought the team to within one bad quarter away from making the NFL Playoffs. Either way, he made the season memorable and finally brought above average play to the quarterback position.

Related Story: Exclusive interview with Bryce Petty

Let’s shift our attention to this year however, and I can tell you from watching firsthand the Jets’ first real practice of the season that the mood on the practice field was nothing short of giddy, ecstatic and electric. It may only be the start of training camp, but the players are ready to get the season started already.

The reasons are understandable. General manager Mike Maccagnan has sent a message to Jets fans that they’re in this thing to win it all this year. Despite some comments to the contrary, (for instance he was recently quoted the playoffs are a “benchmark”), we all can see Maccagnan’s work in action. Signing defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets’ No. 1 draft pick Darron Lee and now the team’s offensive leader Fitzpatrick, the Jets have really high expectations for the upcoming season.

But there are of course still question marks, as there are for all teams. Settling down the backup quarterback spot should also be that simple—Fitzpatrick and the rest. But of course things aren’t ever that simple, and when you look at the depth chart, quarterback Geno Smith clearly has solidified his spot as the main backup. But thinking outside the box, it’s actually time for the Jets to move quarterback Bryce Petty up to the No. 2 slot ahead of Smith.

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In the grand scheme of things, Smith’s travails have been well documented, and really, it is understandable if he is showing some signs of pressure—he spent the whole spring prepping to be the starter, and Fitzpatrick rolling in in the 11th hour pushed him to the background.

But when asked how he felt about losing the starting quarterback job to Fitzpatrick, Smith couldn’t resist hiding his feelings and said he was “pissed.”

Now I certainly understand why he—as well as anyone for that matter—would be pissed.

One minute you’re the starter, and literally the next minute it’s back to the bench.

Smith mentioned he knew this would happen if Fitzpatrick was re-signed. But let’s be realistic, Fitzpatrick was the team leader of last year’s team, and quite frankly, a leader they have not had for many years now.

So, let’s give credit where credit is due. The team responds better to Fitzpatrick, he has the so-called “intangibles” that make him the ideal starting quarterback for this current Jets team. Smith, unfortunately had his chance last year, and while he didn’t necessarily lose the job on the field, the fact remains that Fitzpatrick has the mojo to take this current version of the Jets with all the veterans getting one year older to the playoffs.

With Smith, the backup should be a team-first, diligent worker who waits patiently and does whatever he can to prop up the starter, not appear selfish and a distraction.  Which is why it’s time to cut bait with Smith and fish with Petty.

Smith has NFL-caliber talent—backup talent. He could be a solid support for a team, just not the Jets.  It’s becoming an old story to hear about how he’s angry.  He had two seasons to solidify his spot and couldn’t.  And it will wear on the Fitzpatrick crowd, which seems to be most of the squad.

Smith could earn the Jets a decent mid-round draft pick, and the money another team would have to deal with is attractive:  2016 base salary of $675K and roster bonus of $414K, with a cap hit of $1.5M and dead money of $507K.  Getting Smith out of dodge would lift a cloud out of the position.  Now that Wilkerson is happy, just about the only negativity you are hearing at all coming out of Florham Park is around ‘ol #7.

Promoting Petty makes sense in the grand scheme of things. Football and financial sense. His cap numbers are better than Smith’s  at $525K base, $138K signing bonus, $663K cap and $415K dead cap. Plus the ceiling for Petty is higher than Smith since he’s had a year to learn from the sideline.

new york jets
new york jets

Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) throws the ball during the fourth quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Lions beat the Jets 23-3. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Trading or even releasing Smith would clean up the roster and lift the spirits of a team focused on getting to the next level. Both Petty and quarterback Christian Hackenberg are recent draft choices over the pasy few years whom the Jets selected with an eye toward the future, and it should be that the future has arrived.

Petty has thrown some great deep footballs in practice during this camp and has executed well—tossing precise passes on screen plays that haven’t always been held onto by receivers.  He appears comfortable in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s system and confident in executing it.  The “feel” is there.

His time at Baylor was quite impressive–as a starter in his last two seasons at Baylor (2013-14) had 16 games of at least 300 passing yards, five games of at least 400 passing yards, and two games of at least 500 passing yards.

In his 25 starts, the Bears scored 60 points nine times and 70 points four times.  Petty was a very prolific passer and ran a high-scoring offense. Twelve of those 25 games were home starts. In those 12 games, Baylor went 12-0 and Petty threw 29 touchdowns to only six interceptions.

Petty hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to show what he can do at the pro level yet. In his rookie season with the Jets, Petty only played in the preseason. He played in three games, leading 19 drives that produced one touchdown, two field goals, 13 punts, one turnover and two incomplete drives that ended a half/game. Eight of his punt drives were 3-and-outs.

But in those same three preseason games, he completed 27 of 45 passes for 260 yards (60.0%), 5.8 yards per attempt, threw one touchdown pass and no interceptions. He was only sacked four times as his overall passer rating was 83.5%.

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It’s time to look to the future for the Jets one with Petty in a more prominent role as their No. 2 quarterback moving forward.  It’s time to end things with Smith and start promoting some of the more promising quarterbacks to hopefully find one worthy of being the next franchise player of the Jets.  For all we know, it might very well be Petty if he’s given a chance to prove what he can do by moving up on the depth chart.

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