Has Bryce Petty earned the backup quarterback job?

Should the Jets be considering giving Bryce Petty the backup job over Geno Smith?

Florham Park, NJ - Let's just get this out of the way, has Bryce Petty earned the backup quarterback job? Nope.

That's it. Really, that should be the entire article but because Jets fans are crazy and unreasonable and reporters are bored with a less than exciting training camp, void of big storylines, this has somehow morphed into more than just a hot take followed by a bunch of flame emojis and into an actual storyline. A ridiculous storyline, but a storyline just the same.

Has Petty improved since last year? Absolutely. Has he improved since the start of camp? Yeah, sure a little bit. Has he improved enough to overtake Geno Smith as the backup quarterback for the Jets? No, no he has not.

The problem with focusing solely on Petty's improvement is not putting enough consideration into just how bad he looked last year, and even the start of this year's camp, because improving on that is still a really low bar to clear. Last year Petty looked completely lost and overwhelmed, this year he looks less lost and less overwhelmed but to watch him all training camp is still to watch a quarterback mired in inconsistency. He has had more good throws than last year, so by definition less bad throws, but still far too many bad throws and not enough good throws to be deserving of the backup role yet. 

I get it, most people hate Smith. They are sick and tired of him, and the storylines that surround him, but the fact of the matter is he is still the most talented quarterback on the roster and he has had the best camp of all four quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick will still, obviously, be the starter and should be considering the intangibles he possesses and how he clearly has the best grasp of the offense, but when taking the totality of camp into consideration there's no doubt in my mind that Smith has had the best camp of them all. Now he hasn't looked far better than Fitzpatrick, just slightly better, but he has had a far better camp than Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Of course that's not exactly high praise as none of the quarterbacks, not even Smith, have had anything better than a meh camp overall. But if Smith was going to be cut or lose the backup role Petty would have had to have drastically outplayed him and that clearly hasn't happened.

One good preseason performance against Washington's third-team defense isn't enough to overlook an entire training camp of Smith looking better than Petty. And if we're being honest, even if Petty had played slightly better than Smith throughout camp that probably wouldn't be enough to overtake Smith anyway. Petty has never played a single snap in the regular season, Smith has and fans might not care about that because they say they've "seen enough," but Todd Bowles and Chan Gailey definitely care about that experience. You can doubt my take on it if you'd like, but if Bowles and Gailey were thinking something differently Smith wouldn't still be the second quarterback entering the game on Saturday.

When Bowles was asked which quarterback will play second against the Giants he simply said, "Geno." When he was asked if Petty will play at all he said, "It's hard to get a gauge on the game. He played a lot last week and the week before. We've got to get our guys ready to play."

That last sentence is the key there, that last sentence tells you, what Bowles has said all along, that Smith will be the backup to Fitzpatrick as they need the live game action to get prepared for the regular season. This doesn't necessarily mean that a truly horrific performance in the Snoopy Bowl by Smith couldn't force Bowles to give Petty one more shot, but it does mean that it's unlikely. 

So considering the way Bowles has handled, and spoke about, the "competition" for the backup quarterback role and Smith's advantage of having regular season experience, the question about Petty never should've been does he deserve the backup role? It should be, has he done enough for the Jets to consider keeping four quarterbacks? The answer to that is still no, not for a full season anyway, but it's closer to a realistic/reasonable question than the idea of the Jets being comfortable going into the season with Petty as their backup.

Ideally the Jets would like to stash Petty on the practice squad, but that would involve cutting him and risking losing him if another team decided to claim him. So maybe, just maybe Petty will survive the initial final 53 cuts, and the Jets roll with four quarterbacks at that point, then they try to sneak him onto the practice squad after they start signing players cut from other teams. Or possibly the Jets wait until a week or two into the season to trim the quarterback depth chart down to three and try to minimize the risk of losing Petty since most teams will be less likely to use waiver-wire claim on him once their rosters have been set.

But it's clear, and has been clear for a long time, that if one of these quarterbacks gets cut it is still far more likely it will be Petty than Smith and the fans general hatred and disdain for Smith doesn't mean a thing to Bowles and Gailey. 


Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (cnimbley@gmail.com).


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