Florham Park, N.J. - One would think without Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets quarterback situation is murky. Surprisingly, as of week two of OTAs, it is clear that Geno Smith would be the starter with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg serving as young backups.
The way Smith has practiced during team drills in shorts and a practice uniform has affirmed the speculation. If a deal cannot be worked with Fitzpatrick, Smith will be the starter. A heavy dose of first team reps have created a chemistry between Smith and supportive receivers like Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa. Early on, the third-year signal caller has made smart decisions involving ball security. Those have been almost as impressive as some of the tight window throws he has converted.
The one concern, however, is the start to the summer for Bryce Petty. With many fans wishing the Baylor alum would step up and snag the starting job away from Smith or the unsigned Fitzpatrick, he has not instilled much trust in his game. Coaches have not seen enough from Petty between last season in drills to this year already in the second week of OTAs. It poses the question, if Fitzpatrick is signed, will the Jets have the money, space, or desire to keep Petty after drafting Hackenberg in the second round? If Petty does not show any signs of improvement, is he a candidate to be cut?
Yes, it is June. It is still too early on the calendar and Petty's young career to label him a bust. Nobody is suggesting that. There is still plenty of time for Petty to find his game and correct some of the glaring mistakes that has some spectators scratching their heads with confusion. He has the necessary tools to become a competent starting quarterback in the NFL.
According to NFL.com, scouts believe he "has enough functional movement outside of the pocket, is a ultra-competitive, tough, smart, and strong leader."
The work ethic is there. The will to compete is evident. Petty has made some good decisions running out of the pocket and extending a play with his legs in team practices. His throws are high but do not lack velocity. That can be fixed with proper conditioning and mechanics. He remains committed to being the signal caller of the future for the Jets. The execution, yet, is somewhat lacking.
"Mentally [he is where he needs to be], said Todd Bowles after being asked if he has seen any improvement in Petty's game from last year to now. "We still have to see more now and in training camp. He's a little more comfortable with the system this year, than last."
The familiarity factor can only improve Petty's growth. A year learning offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's playbook helped the young quarterback make a gradual transition from college to the pros since it is a very different game. Sitting a year under a bright individual and great leader in Fitzpatrick helped the growth and maturity of Petty as well. The Jets are doing everything they need to do to groom Petty into their franchise quarterback of tomorrow; the rest is up for Petty to take that next step.
Again, it is too early to form any judgements. However, the door is wide open for the young quarterback to turn some heads for the right reasons. Maybe, another year of Madden can help too.
*** Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)