After an impressive outing on Friday night against the Falcons, New York Jets rookie quarterback Bryce Petty has fans thinking big.
By Robby Sabo
After an impressive 12-for-19, 168 yards and 1 TD performance against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night, many around the NFL have now zeroed in on the rookie quarterback from Baylor.
Is it possible?
Going into the draft very few thought it could be a possibility. After all this is a guy who ran a system at Baylor which would never get confused with the intricacies of the NFL. He played in a spread offense with very few decisions or huddles to speak of. It was go, go, go every game all the time.
It was a system that propelled Petty to finish ninth in the 2014 Heisman Trophy voting and put up massive numbers (63.1 completion percentage, 3,855 yards, 29 passing touchdowns, and nine rushing scores). Not to mention providing the kid a chance to lead the school back to powerhouse prominence, almost squeezing into the first NCAA College Football Playoff.
It was his final two seasons at Baylor coupled with raw abilities that had him been bandied about as an NFL project, rather than a guy who can step onto the field on day one.
His first taste of NFL action backed up those very thoughts.
Last Thursday night in Detroit Petty was far from comfortable on the eyes. Come to think of it, nobody from Gang Green looked decent that night in the god-awful 23-3 drubbing at the hands of the Lions.
Speaking on the topic of the moment though, the fourth round pick finished 10-of-18 passing for only 50 yards. Worst than the stats Petty was incredibly jumpy and unsure about what he was seeing. He rarely went though any progressions and had his mind already made up about where he was going with the ball as the Jets offense broke the huddle.
Sure, Chan Gailey’s system routinely employs three-step drops which promotes this quick line of thinking, but Petty’s discomfort spoke volumes. The takeaway had many thinking the kid would need at least a full season to be groomed.
Fast forward one week and all of Jets fandom couldn’t be more excited.
— Will Reeve (@WillReeveJr) August 22, 2015
After the Jets first-team was once again whipped on the first two exchanges of the game, Petty came in and commanded the offense brilliantly after Fitzpatrick left on a positive note. He was accurate with the ball, stood tall in the pocket, and didn’t hesitate when he made his mind up about where he was going.
He looked like he belonged.
Petty actually went through progressions on five to seven step drops (as few as they might have been). Even better, he trusted his eyes when throwing the ball downfield.
After the game Petty spoke about what he saw, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:
“I think last week I had no idea what to expect as far as the game goes, as far as myself personally and emotionally, how it would roll and so I felt like coming in to this week I would have a better understanding of how things went down and how things worked. I felt a lot more comfortable out there. There was definitely progress as far as where I was last week to this week so that’s good,” Petty said.
What you like about the kid as well is he seems to say and do all the right things. Something the face of the franchise needs to be equipped with:
“It’s progress every week and that’s what I got to keep telling myself, every day, to get better, and every week to get better. I can’t get complacent, I can’t get happy about this. I have to get back in there in the film room and go to work. I still have to get better at decision making. I think especially situationally in the red zone I have to throw catchable balls that only our guys can catch and allow us to score points and not put ourselves in jeopardy down there. We’re learning.”
Of the course the Jets organization doesn’t believe Petty is ready for real NFL action. Aside from a couple exceptions it does take time, especially for a fourth round pick coming out of a spread offense in college.
Still, if Petty showed you anything on Friday night, it’s that there is something promising there. To what level? We still don’t know.
Remember this though: Crazier things have happened than a fourth round quarterback becoming the face of an NFL franchise.
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