There is disappointment, yes. And frustration, too, especially after being told he’s not good enough — at least not yet — to earn his coach’s complete confidence.
But for Bryce Petty, who will return to the sideline after Jets coach Todd Bowles decided to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starter for Sunday’s game against the Patriots, there is hope. And patience. And a belief that his journey is only now beginning.
“Just waiting for that opportunity, and I know it’s going to be there,” Petty told Newsday. “It’s just a matter of time. I have to just keep trusting that.”
Petty got a taste of what it’s like to be a starting quarterback in the Jets’ 9-6 loss to the Rams two weeks ago, but he will have to wait until Bowles is more confident in his abilities before there is a more permanent change.
Even though the overwhelming consensus from outside the locker room is that the Jets need to go with Petty to see just what they have and determine whether he can be a solution to their quarterback situation, Bowles is sticking with Fitzpatrick despite a 3-7 record that realistically means the Jets are out of playoff contention.
Bowles is sticking to his contention that playing the quarterback that gives him the best chance to win now trumps getting a look-see at whether Petty can be the guy down the road.
“I don’t give away jobs,” Bowles said. “You have to take a job.”
That’s a fair point, and one that Petty actually agrees with, even if it means sacrificing potentially valuable playing time in the near term.
“The biggest thing, and this is where my faith plays a large part of who I am, is that right now is not the time, and that’s what gives me peace about this whole thing,” Petty said. “You’ve got to keep grinding, keep pushing forward. You can’t worry about things you can’t control. The things I can control are being a good teammate and trying to be a better quarterback today than I was yesterday. So that’s what I want to focus on.”
Petty produced mixed results in his start against the Rams, going 19-for-32 passing for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He completed a 52-yard pass down the left sideline to rookie Robby Anderson and had Anderson open on another deep route in the second quarter, slightly overthrowing his target (although Anderson also appeared to mistime his jump). Petty also threw a fourth-quarter interception that essentially sealed the loss.
But just being out there opened a whole new world for him.
“It was great, and it’s the confidence factor knowing I can do this,” said Petty, 25, a fourth-round pick out of Baylor in 2015. “That’s where the game can help me. I go back to that Rams game and build off the things that mentally I can take from it.”
The biggest thing is adjusting to the speed of the game.
“Practice is one thing, but the game is a lot faster, and that’s something you really have to experience,” he said. “Until you have that [in a game], it’s hard to really get that in practice. It’s fast in practice, but game speed is different.”
And so is decision-making. Petty acknowledged that he wasn’t quite as decisive as he needed to be in the second half, especially after the Rams changed to a more conservative zone coverage to prevent the deep routes that were open in the first half. He was a bit too quick to come off his deeper reads, settling instead for safer check-down passes that created smaller gains.
“I’ve got to be able to know when to throw it when that opportunity is there,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t trust it enough.”
Petty likely won’t get a chance to see what it’s like to face defensive mastermind Bill Belichick, although he’ll prepare as if he’ll play in the event something happens to Fitzpatrick, who is returning from a mild knee sprain he suffered against the Dolphins. Bowles almost certainly would have gotten a better feel for what Petty can do — or not do — against such a complicated scheme, but that time is not now.
“Every time I get out there, I feel like I can get better,” Petty said. “So if there’s anything that’s frustrating, it’s that part of knowing that I can show more. I know I can be better and do better. At the same time, this is a team deal, and we’re at a vulnerable spot. We can go one of two ways, and [Bowles] sees that. That’s why they pay him the big bucks to make those decisions. I’m going to respect his decision and not really worry about what’s frustrating or what’s disappointing.”
Bowles said Petty’s time will come. Eventually.
“Your best chances to win are the people you go with to win, and if [Petty] has to play, he’ll be ready to play,” Bowles said. “I thought he had a great experience against the Rams and I thought he carried himself well. Some things, obviously, he’s got to learn, but his chance will come.”
And that’s the thought that Petty holds on to: that his day indeed will arrive. It might not be today, or next week, or the week after that, but at some point, he will get the chance to show that he belongs in this league.
Or that he doesn’t.
“The biggest thing, and this is where my faith plays a large part of who I am, is that right now is not the time, and that’s what gives me peace about this whole thing,”
“It’s just a matter of time. I have to just keep trusting that.”
“Every time I get out there, I feel like I can get better,”
“That’s why they pay [Todd Bowles] the big bucks to make those decisions. I’m going to respect his decision and not really worry about what’s frustrating or what’s disappointing.”