New York Jets: Can Bryce Petty Be The Answer?

by Joel Childers

For Bryce Petty, finally being on an NFL team, working out with the team, preparing for the next season, and having a chance to compete is all a dream come true. The Jets 4th round draft pick and former Baylor star understands that his journey is far from being over. In fact, he knows that he still has quite a ways to go:

“It’s a process,” Petty said (per Brian Costello of the New York Post). “It’s one you have to take day by day. It’s a mountain I’m ready to climb, excited to climb.”

Petty’s goal has never been simply making a team, simply being drafted, or simply being in the NFL. Petty wants to continue to work to be better, and be a successful quarterback in the league. He knows this is going to take a lot of work, but he just may have the skill set necessary to do it.

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On the Jets side, they’re sure hoping that he can. After being patient and not reaching for him, the Jets traded up one spot to grab Petty in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. After bringing him in for a pre-draft visit it was clear the team was interested in Petty, and they believe he has the potential to be their quarterback of the future.

For this to happen, however, Petty has a lot to learn. The biggest knock on him is the college he comes from. Baylor University may have been one of the hottest teams in college football in recent years, but their offense doesn’t exactly translate perfectly to the NFL. 

At Baylor, every play is called by the coaches from the sideline after the players have already lined up at the line of scrimmage, every play is run out of the shotgun, most passes involve a single read to a predetermined target, the goal of the quarterback is to drop back and get rid of the ball as quickly as possible, and most passes are thrown against single matchups.

In the NFL, Petty will be asked to call plays for his offense in the huddle quickly and clearly, take snaps from under center, work through several reads during a pass play, drop back and work through his progressions before making a pass, and throw passes against complicated coverage and multiple defenders.

Clearly there is a pretty big gap between what Petty was asked to do at Baylor and what he will be asked to do at the next level, but I think he is more than capable to develop into a successful NFL starter. The key is practice, practice, more practice, and then some real game experience.

Petty is confident and determined, and has all of the physical tools and abilities necessary to be successful. The guy who probably knows Petty’s abilities the best at this point, Baylor head coach Art Briles, seems to think his former quarterback will do very well:

“Jets fans are in for a big treat,” Briles told the New York Daily News, “…My opinion was that he was first-round material, but apparently my opinion didn’t count.”

NFL scouts also had some very positive things to say about Petty, as does the Jets front office:

“He has all the parts and pieces we think will make him a good quarterback in the NFL,” Jets general manger Maccagnan said (per ESPN’s Rich Cimigni) “Time will tell what level of player he becomes.”

There are positive voices out there, but there’s also plenty of detractors. Amongst them are those who say that Petty will not be able to adapt to the more complicated nature of the NFL, and his excellent production in college was only due to the offensive system he was a part of.

ESPN’s Jon Gruden, however, believes that if given the right opportunity Petty can excel. He thinks that if Petty is put in a solid, stable environment he should be able to pick up the NFL system over the next several years. The question is whether or not the Jets will offer him this stable system.

If Petty is to learn how to play in the NFL, he must be allowed to live in a particular system for an extended amount of time. If he is continuously passed around the league or his team sees large amounts of coach turnover in a short amount of time, Petty won’t be able to learn how any one system works before he is put in a different one.

Gruden was impressed with Petty and his ability to pick up new offensive schemes when they met at Gruden’s QB Camp before the draft, so hopefully this has transferred into his time with the Jets, and he has already begun to understand the offense. So long as this offense remains the same in the near future, Petty should be able to learn it quickly and succeed in it.

Luckily for Petty, the Jets seem to be fairly set on not playing him anytime soon.

“He’s got a lot to learn,” head coach Todd Bowles said per Dom Cosention of nj.com“We’re not looking forward for him to be a starter right now.”

He should be able to sit behind another quarterback for at least a season all while continuing to learn his team’s offense. As of right now it looks like Geno Smith will be the Jets quarterback going into the 2015 season, with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the backup. However, both of these guys have had their fair share of struggles, which means the team could be looking for Petty to step up in the not-so distant future.

Smith, the starter for the Jets for the last two seasons, has had some flashes of brilliance, but has also made quite a few mistakes. He has thrown 34 interceptions to only 25 interceptions, and has fumbled the ball 16 times in his career.

Fitzpatrick, a 10 year veteran, has had a broad range of performances, throwing for over 3000 yards each season from 2010-2012, but also leading the league in interceptions in 2011. He’s coming off of a broke leg last December, and he may struggle to return to his full strength at age 32.

Neither of these guys has shown much that would suggest that they can be the answer for the Jets in the long-term. Smith has completely lacked consistency, and if he can’t perform this season, the team may lose their faith in him. Fitzpatrick probably has little to show us on the field that we haven’t already seen, but he may be the smart veteran player that can lead Petty to success.

If Petty is given the proper training he needs before being thrown out onto the field, I think he will have a chance to be extremely successful. He’s got the physical size needed in the NFL, as well as the quick release and the overall arm talent. His strength and accuracy have both been praised, and the only real questions are about the mental aspects of the game.

With Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Kerley, Eric Decker, and Jace Amaro, the Jets have established a solid receiving corps that hopefully will be around over the next few years as Petty develops. Throwing to these guys could make even an average quarterback look good, and I believe Petty’s talent to be far greater than average.

I don’t know if he’ll be the next Joe Namath, but I do think Bryce Petty can be the futurequarterback for the New York Jets. He’s not going to be able to come in right away and lead the team, but given the time and situations needed to develop, I believe Petty has the ability and intelligence needed to be a successful NFL quarterback.

He could very well be the answer the Jets have been looking for as they’ve drafted six quarterbacks in the last eight seasons.

With an all new coaching staff and a new system, the Jets could be looking to change things up in the near future, as they rebuild from a disappointing last few seasons. Petty may be a part of this change, and I believe he could easily be the leader of a new era of Jets football.

Petty playing in 2015 is very unlikely, but I would not be the least bit surprised to see him and Smith battle it out for the starting position next offseason, and Petty come out on top. Hopefully he is able to get as much waiting time as he needs before he is forced to start, but in the words of Tom Petty (no relation, as far as I know) “The waiting is the hardest part.”

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