DETROIT — Bryce Petty has been considered mostly an afterthought in the Jets’ quarterback competition, with speculation focusing more on veteran Josh McCown and second-year passer Christian Hackenberg in the bid to win the starting job.
But Petty certainly acquitted himself well Saturday night with some solid play in the second half of a 16-6 loss to the Lions.
Hackenberg struggled in the first half, completing just 2-for-6 for 14 yards and taking two sacks,
Petty looked more comfortable in leading the offense in the third and fourth quarters.
Keep in mind, though, that he was playing almost exclusively against Lions backups, with both teams pulling most of their starters after the first half.
Petty finished 15-for-24 for 160 yards, no touchdown passes and one interception and led the Jets to their only points of the game, a pair of fourth-quarter field goals by Ross Martin. His interception came in the Lions’ end zone in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Looking for tight end Jordan Leggett, the ball was picked off by safety Rolan Milligan.
“I thought I was executing plays better than last week, which was something I wanted to do,” Petty said. “We just have to finish drives. That starts with me executing. I was a lot more comfortable. I think that comes with reps and time. It’s the first time I’ve ever run the West Coast system, and I loved it.”
Petty isn’t sure whether he’ll factor into the Jets’ quarterback equation, but he took solace in feeling more at home in the new offense brought in by first-year offensive coordinator John Morton.
“I think it was just more of getting back on schedule,” he said. “Finding completions, finding things that they give us [defensively]. All those things helped with rhythm. You get 5 yards, you get another 5 yards and a first down, that’s getting confidence, getting in a rhythm.”
Petty said knowing he’d play a full half was a boost.
“It’s nice to know you’ve got a half,” he said. “It’s not three or four reps here. You come out there and get settled. Every time you get the rhythm, especially at our position, it’s big.”
Petty’s biggest regret was not finding Leggett in the end zone.
“That’s one of those situations, there’s 13 seconds left on the clock and you want to give your guy a chance,” he said. “If that ball is six inches to the left, that’s his. That’s things that the more reps I get, the more chances I have, we’ll make that happen. [Leggett] made a great effort on that ball, but the defense gets paid, too.”
Was this Petty’s last chance to make a statement in the quarterback competition?
“Who knows? I’m not at liberty to make that decision,” he said. “I just come to work and put a smile on my face and go for it. It’s about getting better today than I was yesterday. Whenever the opportunity comes, whether it’s the third [preseason] game or the fourth game or not, I’ll be ready.”