FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — In a perfect world, “you’d like to see young players play,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said. “But you also want to make sure they’re ready for that. It’s a more complicated decision, I think, than some people realize.”
Soon the Jets will have to decide whether to start Ryan Fitzpatrick or Bryce Petty after this week’s bye. And Maccagnan said the decision rests solely with coach Todd Bowles.
“Todd and I literally talk every day about players,” Maccagnan said on Wednesday, adding that he defers to his coach on roster matters.
(The GM, who was hired on the same day as Bowles in January 2015, doesn’t have the power to fire Bowles. Instead, he and Bowles report directly to owner Woody Johnson.)
Bowles has repeatedly said Fitzpatrick gives the Jets the best chance to win, but he also benched the 12-year veteran last month in favor of Geno Smith, who’s now on injured reserve. Though Fitzpatrick returned to the starting role, he suffered a sprained MCL against the Dolphins on Nov. 6. As a result, Bowles named Petty a first-time NFL starter last week against the Rams.
At 3-7, the Jets’ playoffs hopes are all but dashed. So why not just stick with Petty?
“It affects other players on the team, too,” Maccagnan said. “So if you’re trying to determine what gives you the best chance to be successful, but also if you’re looking at how players develop and progress, I think the point I would simply make is you don’t just wing it. It’s a little more complicated than that. It’s not a decision you take lightly, but you also want to make sure the player is ready, and try to set him up for success.”
The GM also defended the Jets’ second-round selection of quarterback Christian Hackenberg. “We like Christian,” he said. “ . . . We see a lot of potential in him. And we knew going in, there were things he needed to work on . . . But the idea was simply, if we’re going to take a quarterback, at some point in time, have them in the pipeline to develop.”
Maccagnan noted that Petty, a fourth-round pick in 2015, has made “quite a bit of improvement” from his rookie season and “so the same thing would hold true with Christian going forward.”