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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Bryce Petty latest sign that Jets' Mike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles are searching for answers at QB

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty passes against Oklahoma in

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty passes against Oklahoma in the first half. (Nov. 7, 2013) Credit: AP

Geno Smith already had seen the Jets sign a veteran quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) who had played for the team's new offensive coordinator (Chan Gailey). And Smith knew there was a good possibility that the Jets would draft a quarterback Saturday, which they did, taking Baylor's Bryce Petty in the fourth round.

Yet with all those not-so-subtle hints that the Jets' new management team and coaching staff remain unconvinced that Smith is the answer at quarterback, he seemed unfazed.

"There are always other guys. That's the nature of the business," Smith said after a practice earlier in the week. "There is always going to be competition. I have always welcomed it, and I still do."

But no matter how much of a stiff upper lip Smith maintains with the increased competition, he still is in the awkward position of working for people who didn't hire him. Drafted in 2013 by general manager John Idzik and a starter for coach Rex Ryan, Smith now answers to GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles.

The third-year quarterback must surely get the hint: After Maccagnan brought in former Texans quarterback Fitzpatrick, who had been Gailey's starter in Buffalo from 2010-12, the GM selected Petty on Saturday.

There were indications leading up to the draft that Maccagnan was closely studying the quarterbacks in the draft -- and not just presumptive No. 1 and No. 2 picks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. There was a solid second tier of quarterbacks including Petty, UCLA's Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion of Oregon State and Garrett Grayson of Colorado State.

Of that group, a decent number of scouts felt that Petty was at or near the top of the list.

There was some predraft chatter that Petty -- who ran the spread offense at Baylor with aplomb similar to that of Robert Griffin III, the second overall pick in 2012 -- would sneak into the first round. But once he was bypassed through the third round, Maccagnan traded up one spot with the Jaguars -- for whom Idzik now works as a salary-cap adviser -- and took Petty 103rd overall.

The knock against Petty is the same as the knock against all spread quarterbacks, including Marcus Mariota: that they won't make the transition to the pro game. But Gailey's system includes a lot of elements of the spread offense, and Petty himself was struck at how similar it was to his college attack.

"When I came up on my visit, we did a mini-install and it was actually a lot of the same dynamics or schemes that we had at Baylor that [Gailey] was showing me on tape," Petty said. "It was great, because it was a lot of the same things that we did. I'm definitely excited about getting into the film room with him and start understanding where, what and how and the way things work. It's definitely an offense that your guys can have fun with, and that's an important thing, especially in this league."

Whoever ends up being the Jets' quarterback this season and beyond, there are plenty of tools with which to work. Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley and newly acquired Zak Stacy provide a solid running attack. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and rookie Devin Smith, a former Ohio State star, offer a better-than-average receiving corps. The offensive line is a solid group, although vulnerable at guard.

And Gailey is a capable play-caller, if occasionally prone to some missteps that beset every offensive coordinator.

What the Jets don't have is a legitimate answer at quarterback.

Smith doesn't stand a chance in this or any offense if he doesn't find a way to stop turning the ball over. In 30 NFL games, he has 34 interceptions to go with 25 touchdown passes. He also has 16 fumbles, half of which were recovered by the opposing team.

But there have been games in which Smith really has looked the part of a capable quarterback. He went toe-to- toe with Tom Brady last Oct. 16 in New England before losing to the Patriots, 27-25. He had a perfect rating of 158.3 in last year's regular-season finale in Miami.

But when they closely examined Smith on video, there simply weren't enough of those games to convince Maccagnan and Bowles. Thus the additions of Fitzpatrick and now Petty. The new decision-making team hopes one of them can provide the answer, but Maccagnan and Bowles know there's a good chance none will stick.

The quarterback situation remains a work in progress. And unless and until that changes, the Jets will remain a flawed team.

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