The bromance between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall has been one of the Jets’ most enduring — and adorable — storylines of the past two seasons. But those 30-somethings are old news now. A new football couple is turning heads.
Bryce Petty is scheduled to be the quarterback through New Year’s Day, and his actions have made it clear who his favorite receiver is: a slightly built, previously unheralded, undrafted rookie out of Temple — Robby Anderson.
The two have been at this for a while. In preseason, Petty had more than double the passing yards of any other Jet, and Anderson had more than double the receiving yards of any teammate. That gave them plenty of time on the field together, including a game against the Redskins in which Anderson had 131 yards, with catches of 50 and 42 yards on Petty throws, the latter for a touchdown.
Then came the regular season. With Eric Decker hurt, Anderson’s role increased. With Petty now under center, Anderson’s familiarity with the second-year quarterback has been a huge bonus.
The highest receiving yardage totals of Anderson’s career have come in the three games in which Petty has seen significant action. That includes a 40-yard touchdown pass against the Colts last Monday and Anderson’s six receptions for 99 yards (on 11 targets) in Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the 49ers — all team highs for the game and career highs for Anderson.
“I mean, it’s just a matter of a lot of reps together since the preseason — repping it,” Anderson said of the connection.
Said Petty: “I think it probably started in preseason. We were getting a lot of looks together and I mean shoot, the guy makes plays. He did a great job a couple of times (Sunday), but it definitely stemmed from preseason.”
Anderson twice made Petty look good with leaping grabs of long passes against the 49ers. He caught a 40-yarder to set up a field goal and later made the biggest offensive play of the day when Petty heaved the ball across his body under pressure in overtime. The 6-3, 190-pound Anderson outleaped the Niners’ 6-1, 221-pound Jaquiski Tartt and came down with it for a 26-yard gain that set up the winning score.
“I could see his eyes looking for me,” Anderson said. “I had to bring in that big-time catch.”
Big-time it was.
“Robby made a great play and made (Petty) look good,” coach Todd Bowles said.
Said Petty: “Robby just does a really good job. He’s kind of one of those, as we like to call him in our QB room, a QB-friendly guy. When you’re running and escaping, he just finds where you are.”
That is the kind of thing that earns a receiver attention from a quarterback, especially a young one who seems to be at his best throwing on the move.
There is no telling where things go from here for Petty, 25, and Anderson, 23. They could be footnotes by next season. But with everyone on the roster in audition mode, this could be the beginning of a beautiful football friendship.