New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) rolls left looking...

New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) rolls left looking for a receiver during the first half of the game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Outside of their quad rennial head-to-head matchup, the Jets and Giants never have had a regular-season fly-by closer than this one, a 13½-hour gap between the end of Dolphins vs. Jets and the start of Lions vs. Giants.

The proximity of this weekend’s games allowed for obvious comparisons between the teams’ records and their abilities to attract crowds to MetLife Stadium.

But it also put into relief their biggest contrast as of December 2016. Unfortunately for the Jets, it is the one at the sport’s most important position.

Eli Manning will start for the Giants on Sunday, as he has in every game since the middle of the 2004 season — at which time Jets rookie Christian Hackenberg was 9 years old — and seemingly will in perpetuity.

Bryce Petty started for the Jets on Saturday night, as he did last week and is scheduled to do twice more despite a dismal 34-13 loss to the Dolphins that dropped the Jets to 4-10 and Petty to 1-2 as a starter.

That assumes, of course, that he gets a medical go-ahead after tests on his chest to make sure he does not have an injured lung after being sandwiched in the fourth quarter by Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh.

“I’ll be good,” he promised. “A little sore right now, but I’ll be fine.”

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Maybe, but the second-year quarterback walked gingerly in the locker room and winced as he reached down for his shower shoes. It was painful to watch, and served as a symbol of the Jets’ fragile situation at his position.

Let’s put it this way: They have four quarterbacks, and the betting odds — if there were such a thing — for the 2017 starter would favor “none of the above.”

Sometimes that is not a bad thing for a team in transition. But it is a bad thing in a year with no clear answer on the free-agent market or in the draft.

Assuming Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith move on, that leaves Petty, Hackenberg and . . . fill in the blank.

All of that must be sorted out in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, all fans can do is watch Petty and hope for a lightning strike.

After his exciting roller coaster of a victory over the 49ers last week, this was a ride that veered off the tracks after a promising start in the form of a 40-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson less than four minutes in.

Petty again was all over the map; he flashed talent and potential as well as profound inexperience and inconsistency before finishing 20-for-36 for 235 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a lost fumble.

Todd Bowles’ assessment of how he played? “Not well enough to win,” he said. “Too many mistakes. He wasn’t the only one. He had a lot of help.”

Bowles and Petty both put some of the blame for the Dolphins’ heavy pass rush on Petty’s failure to call out protections properly, but the injury-riddled line played a major role.

On the play in which Petty was hurt, it appeared center Wesley Johnson snapped the ball too soon. Petty called it “just a miscommunication.”

Still, Petty showed his toughness by completing a 28-yard pass to Anderson while being hit, then tried to return to the game until he was stopped by shortness of breath and an inability to throw more than a few yards.

Petty said he saw things well, and that his only mistake in a read was on an interception by Wake on which Wake dropped into coverage and Petty threw the ball right to him.

Also frustrating to him were the several balls on which receivers seemed to have a step on defenders and he threw too short or too long.

“I was just a yard-and-a-half off on the deep balls,” he said. “That’s the difference between talking about six points and talking about an interception or an incomplete pass . . . There were a couple of plays that were there to be made and I didn’t make them. That’s the [stinky] part of it.”

Elsewhere in New Jersey, Manning presumably was getting ready for bed. Another big game loomed.


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