After eight games and five starts, spanning the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the New York Jets have a general idea of what they have in 26-year-old Bryce Petty, their 2014 fourth-round draft pick.
His completion percentage of 53 exemplifies his accuracy woes, as does his touchdown to interception ratio — he’s thrown four touchdowns compared to nine picks. He has made some good throws and shown off his arm that helped his name become a staple in the Baylor University record book. But for the most part, he has been nothing worth writing home about.
This was summed up perfectly in his up-and-down start against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, his first start of the 2017 season and a game that featured a few cringe-worthy throws, but also a couple of nice plays.
Let’s start with an underrated part of Petty’s game: his legs. He doesn’t have blazing speed like his Baylor predecessor, Robert Griffin III, but his mobility in the pocket allows him to occasionally extend plays. Arguably his best play came on third-and-four, when he had no receiver open, and maneuvered his way out of the pocket and past the chains. Bonus points for the good, safe slide at the end.
Undoubtedly Petty’s best throw came on one of the few moments he was asked to throw the ball deep. His perfectly-placed deep ball to rookie running back Elijah McGuire was beautiful, and led to a Jets field goal that kept the team in the game. He was actually better throwing the ball deep — Pro Football Focus evaluated that Petty completed 4-of-8 passes for 93 yards on throws that traveled at least 10 yards in the air.
Accuracy, or rather lack thereof, was Petty’s fatal flaw in the loss. His blunders weren’t even exemplified on his two interceptions, but rather plenty of his incompletions. This pass, intended for Robby Anderson, was well behind the receiver, as Petty was unable to complete the tough throw on the run.
Unlike the McGuire pass, Petty airmailed this one, and it cost the Jets a penalty. New Orleans rookie safety Marcus Williams hit Anderson on the route, drawing flags from the official. However, because the pass was deemed uncatchable, the flag was revoked, forcing the Jets to punt. A better pass, even if it was just in the area of Anderson, would probably pick up a first down.
As CBS color analyst, and former NFL quarterback, Rich Gannon said, “you can’t do that.” That about sums it up. This was one of Petty’s worst passes because it was basically given to him. Saints cornerback Marcus Lattimore was giving Anderson a large cushion, and Petty was essentially handed six yards.
Another one of Petty’s blunders cost the Jets’ momentum in a four-point game. As the team was about to pass midfield, Petty forced a pass into tight coverage, which was tipped and intercepted. Petty could have gone to the safe checkdown to Matt Forte, or even threw it half a second sooner to tight end Neal Sterling, but this blunder put New Orleans back in the driver’s seat.