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A most pleasant surprise in Bryce Petty

By Hillary Garza
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 19: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets drops back to pass during the third quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 19, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Jets 16-6. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 19: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets drops back to pass during the third quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 19, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Jets 16-6. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets got a small glimpse of what quarterback Bryce Petty can do under center. Believe it or not, he’ll be a most pleasant surprise at some point this upcoming season.

The New York Jets avoided a major letdown and were fortunate that Bryce Petty’s injury suffered last week during a meaningless preseason game against the New York Giants wasn’t more serious than a knee sprain. This is because Petty will likely be a valuable contributor in 2017 given Christian Hackenberg’s poor preseason performance and current starting quarterback Josh McCown’s age and injury history.

You won’t find many who’ll admit it openly at One Jets Drive, but this summer’s most pleasant surprise has to be the performance of Petty. While other players have stood out and there have been some nice surprises—Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Demario Davis, and ArDarius Stewart just to name a few—in my estimation, Petty has been the real star of the Jets’ preseason.

Yes, you’ll hear the same old suggestions that Petty’s success may be due to playing against second and third string defenses, that he is injury prone, or that he’s already reached his ceiling because in college he was a “system” quarterback, blah, blah, blah…. The simple fact remains that there is little trace of the deer-in-the-headlights look so common to young quarterbacks and used to be a permanent fixture with Petty.

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This season he has proven to be a more confident leader with a commanding presence in the pocket. During the Giants game, Petty often improvised behind the line of scrimmage, quickly scanning through multiple reads. His second touchdown pass to ArDarius Stewart was a perfect example of this newfound skill. I do not believe Hackenberg has this ability at the moment.

Admittedly the evaluation of Petty must be tempered by the realization that there is a sense of desperation about the Jets quarterback position; meaning that there is a tendency to label the latest prospect as the next great one. We must also keep in mind that the more games Petty plays, there’s now additional film for defensive coordinators to dissect.

In other words, every Petty tendency will be known by game day; they’ll even know his favorite meal if it might provide some insights into how his mind works. So I recognize that perspective is needed here. All that said, however, it is important to keep in mind that Petty is no slouch and is a proven talent.

He had an incredible college career, throwing for over 8,000 yards, which included 62 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions. His passing efficiency rating was 166. For comparison purposes, Deshaun Watson’s career passing efficiency rating was 158, Jameis Winston (158), Marcus Mariota (172), and the recently named Cleveland Browns starter and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer (148). So Petty is up there with many of the top quarterbacks selected in the early rounds of recent NFL drafts.

If 2017 proves to be an off year for the Jets then they should at least let Petty loose. The Jets defense is decent, and they have some dynamic playmakers on offense. Robby Anderson and Matt Forte immediately come to mind. Watch the replay of the 80-yard scamper from Bilal Powell perfectly set up by Petty. Last year, Petty probably doesn’t recognize the open receiver or would rush the throw. More importantly, I don’t think Hackenberg can execute that kind of timing play right now. So these are all encouraging signs that the Jets quarterback situation may not be as bad as some have suggested.

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To be clear, I’m not suggesting Petty’s preseason performance means the Jets have found the “one.” But in the process of searching for the quarterback of the future, the Jets would be wise to consider Petty more strongly this year. In my view, Petty has clearly removed any doubts that he could be successful in the NFL. It’s time the Jets recognized it also and give him the opportunity to lead this team once and for all.

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