The Jets may “feel good” about their young quarterbacks in 2017, according to general manager Mike Maccagnan, but they still have to sort out their immediate future — and that means determining who will start against the Patriots next Sunday.
Coach Todd Bowles repeatedly has said that Ryan Fitzpatrick gives his 3-7 team the best chance to win, but with the Jets out of playoff contention, fans are clamoring for Bryce Petty, the second-year quarterback who started last week’s 9-6 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
During Maccagnan’s nearly 40-minute sit-down with reporters this past week, he explained the “complicated” position in which Bowles finds himself in having to choose between an underperforming 12-year veteran and an inexperienced 25-year-old with a big arm.
“You [have to be thoughtful about] making a change, especially at that position, because it affects other players on the team, too,” Maccagnan said. “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 . . . 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 to a degree to set them up for success.”
Naturally, Petty is eager for his second NFL career start.
The former Baylor quarterback completed 19 of 32 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, but the bulk of his production came on the Jets’ 99-yard scoring drive in the first quarter that was capped by a hook-and-ladder TD pass from Petty to Brandon Marshall to Bilal Powell.
“I think that there definitely were some more opportunities there to go downfield that I’ll learn as I go,” Petty said. “When to make those shots and when I can make those shots.
“It’s not about being just a game manager. You want to win,” added the 2015 fourth-round pick, who seemed to take offense at the assumption (based on his college career) that he’s simply a shotgun quarterback. “I don’t like flirting with that line. I want to win. I like slinging the ball around. Definitely things to learn from.”
Fitzpatrick, who turns 34 Thursday, still believes that despite his struggles, he gives the Jets the best chance to win.
“I mean, we wish we could have won more games and been fighting for a playoff spot right now,” Fitzpatrick told Newsday recently. “I think that’s the biggest thing. But at this point, there’s nothing I really can change.’’
Fitzpatrick has the lowest QB rating (67.6) in the league and the highest total of turnovers (13). “I haven’t played well,” he said, “and we, as a team, haven’t played up to our capabilities.”
Bowles stuck with the erratic Fitzpatrick through the Jets’ 1-4 start. After benching him in favor of Geno Smith in their Oct. 17 loss to the Cardinals on Monday Night Football, Bowles turned back to Fitzpatrick after Smith suffered a torn right ACL against the Ravens a week later.
“Rightfully so, based on performance and everything else, people don’t have to believe in me,” Fitzpatrick said. “Basically, the point was, and still is, the reason I’ve been here as long as I have is because I have that self-belief. There are definitely people who will believe in me until the day I die, I know that. And I have that list of people. It bothers me that there’s a certain expectation for me this year from coaches, players, myself and I haven’t met that expectation. That bothers me. But I don’t think that a lack of belief [from others] bothers me.”
Fitzpatrick’s statement might be put to the test this week if Bowles opts to go with Petty.