New York Jets: Quarterback Decision a Tough One

Who do the New York Jets start at quarterback? The decision is not as easy as you think.

The New York Jets sit at 3-7 and in last place in the AFC East. They are technically still alive in the AFC playoff race, but everyone knows they’re out. Anyone who has watched the Jets play in 2016 knows they are not running the table. Even if they did, 9-7 does not guarantee a playoff berth.

Head coach Todd Bowles has a decision to make. Who starts at quarterback when the team returns from the bye week to face the New England Patriots? Is it Ryan Fitzpatrick or Bryce Petty? The answer is not as easy as you think.

Most Jets fans believe that Petty should get the call. The thought is understandable, given the state of the 2016 season. With the playoffs all but gone, isn’t it a good time to see what they have in Petty? In his debut, he went 19-of-32 for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception. No, he didn’t light it up, but that was due in part to the gameplan. We all saw them run a draw on third-and-9 from their own 40-yard line.

He didn’t set the world on fire, but he didn’t blow up either. Isn’t it time to hand him the keys?

Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be back in New York next year—that is clear. He bet on himself with his one-year contract and has lost that bet severely. Leading the NFL in interceptions is all anyone needs to know about whether or not “Fitzmagic” has returned. It hasn’t. So, it’s time for Petty, right? Well…

Let’s talk about how the Jets have handled young quarterbacks in the past. No, let’s not, because it’s frankly nothing but painful memories. Justin Schmick of the Jet Press talked about Week 10 being a desperation move, saying that Petty was in no place to succeed. The truth is that the Jets have difficulty developing young quarterbacks. Whether it has been a revolving door of coordinators or weapons behind that, it hasn’t worked.

Everyone knows how good the Patriots are. Bill Belichick is a legendary defensive mind with one of his gameplans in the Hall of Fame. He won’t have any trouble throwing all kinds of new looks at Petty, ones he has never seen before. Whatever he will have seen on tape will not be what he sees on the field. Don’t forget that the Jets passing game has taken a hit without Eric Decker, despite the development of Quincy Enunwa.

Are the Jets putting Bryce Petty in a position to succeed, when his second career start would be against the best coach in the sport and one of the best teams in the sport? One could argue that this game might set his development backwards.

Maybe it would be wise for the Jets to hold him back one more week if Fitzpatrick is healthy. In the past, Bowles has said Fitz is the starter when healthy, though he has backed off of that statement. It might be smart to give him one more week to prepare for the schedule following the Patriots.

Over the next three weeks following the game against New England, the Jets take on the Colts, 49ers, and Dolphins. These teams are nowhere near the level of the Patriots. Todd Bowles could consider this argument and decide giving Petty one more week to prepare would put him in a better position to succeed in the weeks that follow.

What’s the answer? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. But the decision is not as clear-cut as it looks on the surface.

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