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Bryce Petty proving the doubters wrong

Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) attempts a pass against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) attempts a pass against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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As the New York Jets prepare for their game of preseason action again the New York Giants, quarterback Bryce Petty is proving all the doubters wrong.

This past April, in the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round. Hackenberg’s professional dream became a reality, while Bryce Petty‘s nightmare just began. But Petty did not question the selection or protest the choice like Ryan Mallett did for the Houston Texans last year. Instead, as a loyal team player, he decided to assist the rookie and let their play speak for themselves. “At the end of the day, he’s your teammate,” Petty recently said regarding Hackenberg, per Michael David Smith of NBC Sports. “If there are questions that he has, I’m going to answer them.”

Related Story: All eyes continue to be on Bryce Petty

Naturally, the selection prompted questions regarding the organization’s trust in Petty. His rookie season was supposed to be a stepping stone for the former Baylor star quarterback to succeed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Currently, the Jets have four quarterbacks on the roster, including Geno Smith, with the No. 2 spot up for grabs.

Prior to the selection of Hackenberg, Jets’ general manager, Mike Maccagnan expressed his utmost confidence in Petty as a backup. “We feel, ability-wise, he can definitely be a quality No. 2 (quarterback),” Maccagnan said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. “The rest is kind of up to him. He has the physical ability to potentially be a starting-caliber quarterback, but he still has to do it on the field and in the preseason, so we can kind of see where he’s at. We’re excited to work with him.” Maccagnnan’s statement had many fans wondering: why would the Jets use a second-round draft pick on yet another quarterback this year?

While Hackenberg’s selection resulted in less snaps for the four quarterbacks, history has shown this kind of competition sometimes sparks players to surpass the rest of the group.

In 2015, the Chicago Blackhawks benched Corey Crawford  for several games during their playoff run; he regained the position and went on to win the Stanley Cup Finals for them. This year in the NBA, the same situation took place with Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers; he was benched for the majority of the playoffs and returned to the starting role with a chip on his shoulder, helping the Cavs win the NBA Finals, as well.

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And the Jets seem to have brought the fire out of Petty, as he has risen to the occasion this week.

In game one of the preseason, vs the Jacksonville Jaguars, he completed seven of 14 passes for 93 yards and had no interceptions or touchdowns.

The game was average, to say the least; nothing eye-opening on the negative or positive side.

But this past week against the Washington Redskins, Petty was literally unstoppable.

The Jets’ starting offense looked very sloppy and ineffective during the beginning of the game. Then entered Smith, who was even more ineffective than Fitzpatrick, with 47 yards and an interception. That is, until the second half, when Petty stepped in and delivered an absolutely dominant performance.

He said to the media earlier in the week that he wanted to be more decisive and less timid in this game, and that is exactly what he was.

He started with a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Sudfeld in the third quarter. Petty also stood in there, took a hit, and delivered a beautiful 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson in the fourth quarter.

Petty threw for 242 yards with two touchdowns, in just the second half.  At just 25-years-old, Petty has certainly looked like a savvy veteran out there, while Smith looked like the lost and erratic rookie. Petty is without a doubt making a strong case for the No. 2 position.

Last week, head coach Todd Bowles announced that Smith is the clear-cut No. 2 quarterback on the Jets. However, it just might be time to re-examine that. Smith has shown absolutely nothing since the beginning of preseason. He threw a mind-boggling interception into a zone covered by three defenders. Smith also made a costly error, taking an intentional-grounding penalty for 15 yards. The Jets know what they have in Smith already, so now they need to invest the time to see what Petty can be. 

new york jets
new york jets

Aug 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) attempts to pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Petty’s college statistics speak volumes, as far as his talent. As the starter for the Baylor Bears, he led the Big-12 in passing touchdowns, with 32, and threw for 4200 yards. He went on to win the Big-12 Offensive Player of the Year and was in the top 10 for Heisman voting both in 2013 and 2014. Clearly, he has the ability to play solid football.

But aside from just the tremendous skills on the field, Petty exudes the kind of leadership every coach looks for in a player.

One can tell by his demeanor towards rookie Hackenberg. He spends time in the film room outside of practice hours and listens to not only his coaches, but the seasoned veterans around him, such as Fitzpatrick and center Nick Mangold. “He’s more confident in his reads and therefore the footballs coming out a lot better,” Fitzpatrick said, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “I think he’s done a great job all preseason even with the situation with everything up in the air. Who knows? Just grinding every day.”

must read: Todd Bowles preaches chemistry in 2016

For a player who has been a project since his draft night two seasons ago, Petty exemplified nothing short of a professional out there. He looked about as finished as he ever has in a Jets uniform Friday night at FedEx Field. He was relaxed, smooth and confident in the huddle. And with one more year under Fitzpatrick’s wing, along with the weapons the Jets have for receivers, it just might be Petty as the future of the franchise in the Big Apple.

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