Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Petty Should Be Backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick

It's hard to believe that a month ago at this time the Jets were still in a holding pattern on whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick would even play for them this year.

A dispute of guaranteed money came to an end the day before training camp started when Fitzpatrick agreed to a 1-year, $12 million contract, with all of that money guaranteed. Now three weeks into training camp, and two games in, this much is clear: Geno Smith's days in green and white should be numbered.

One has to only look at the performances of both Smith and current third string quarterback, Bryce Petty to know that Petty has outplayed Smith on the field. In two games, Petty has completed 58 precent of his passes, has thrown for 335 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Against the Redskins last Friday night, Petty threw for 242 yards and two scores, and was the reason the Jets held an 18-14 lead late in the fourth quarter.

Smith? He hasn't been good. In two games Smith has completed only 52 percent of his passes, thrown for 126 yard with one pick and one touchdown. For a guy in his fourth year in the NFL this was an opportunity for Smith to show that he is by far and away the team's best option as its back-up quarterback. Instead he has has been the opposite.

Not to mention Smith has hurt himself with a number of off-field gaffs that showcase his continued immaturity. Shortly after Fitzpatrick agreed to terms on a contract, Smith came out and told the media that he was "pissed off," hinting ever so slightly that he was upset that he wasn't going to be the starting quarterback.

One would think that Smith knew long in advance that the Jets wanted Fitzpatrick to be their starter over him. One would think? Apparently Smith felt otherwise.

Two weeks ago he took to Twitter attacking the media saying, "If they don't have a story these days, they'll make one."

These are not signals a team wants to see from a guy who is supposed to be a competent NFL quarterback. Smith is anything but that right now -- and perhaps his release is the best thing for him -- if the Jets go that route.

Todd Bowles meanwhile remains non-comittal as to whom his back-up will be. Will it be Smith? Will it be Petty? "Right now they're all playing, and we are trying to see who sorts out what," Bowles said this week.

Bowles wouldn't even go as far as to say which quarterback would be the back-up in Friday's Giants-Jets preseason clash.

This is a least a hint that Smith has opened the door for Petty, and, the former Baylor product has taken the invite and knocked the door off its hinges. While Friday's game won't answer much, since the starters will play into the third quarter, the final preseason game in Philadelphia on September 1 will go a long way in determining who gets the back-up slot.

And let's keep in mind there is another card in play here too, and that is Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg has been kept under tight wraps all summer and he may not see the field until the Eagles game, if at all. The Jets look at him as a project, and certainly won't cut a guy they selected in the second round. If anything, Hackenberg might be placed on the Practice Squad. If Hackenberg is not on the Practice Squad, it would signal that either Smith or Petty would be looking for a new team.

If Petty continues to play well in camp and in the remaining pre-season games, there is no question that he should get the job. Smith has had his chance to prove himself several times over and can't seem to get over the hump. While it would make sense for the Jets to keep Geno Smith and his expiring contract because he has the "experience," Petty is likely the best answer to the Jets back-up issues right now.

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