Is Bryce Petty the Future of the New York Jets?
Baylor football coach Art Briles once called quarterback Bryce Petty Clark Kent because of his ability on the field and in the classroom. His superpowers have yet to be tested in the NFL, but the former Baylor Bears signal-caller is a class act, gifted athlete, and a winner. In his two years as the starting quarterback at Baylor, Petty went 22-4 and won back-to-back Big 12 Championships (shared with TCU in 2014). During this stretch, he threw for 61 touchdowns and 8,000 yards with only 10 interceptions.
It wasn't all sunshine in Waco for Petty. In 2014, Petty had six games with fewer than 20 completions, and five games with a completion percentage below 60%. While often inconsistent, when hot, Petty was nearly unstoppable. He had four games against above-average competition where he threw for over 400 yards and averaged 3.5 touchdowns against Michigan State, Kansas State, Buffalo, and TCU. Petty was the only quarterback able to beat the Horned Frogs last season, and he did it by throwing for 510 yards and six touchdowns.
We know that exceptional quarterback play in college can be misleading, especially when the quarterback is coming from a spread offense ran primarily out of the shotgun. For example, Kellen Moore lit the world on fire in his final two years at Boise State (2010-2011), throwing for 78 touchdowns and over 7,600 yards with just 15 interceptions, but he has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game after three seasons. To be fair to Petty, he's faced tougher competition in the Big 12, and is a much more gifted athlete than Moore. Petty measures 6'3" and weighs 230 pounds, but still has quickness, running a 4.87 40-yard dash at the combine. He was also in the combine's top five of all quarterbacks in the vert jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill, and the 20-yard shuttle.
Can Petty Save New York?
After a rough year with Geno Smith and Michael Vick splitting time at quarterback, Jets' fans have a new name to yell out when things aren't going well, which could be often. In 2014, no team passed for fewer yards than the Jets, who averaged just 184.1 yards per game. According to our Net Expected Points Metric (NEP), which quantifies a team’s production in comparison to expectation-level production, the Jets' Passing NEP adjusted for schedule ranked 23rd (0.02) a season ago, which is bolstered by a strong irrelevant Week 17 performance from Smith. They failed to move the ball and struggled to score, ranking 28th in scoring with just 17.7 points per game.
Petty is a project, but he might be thrown to the wolves early due to inconsistent quarterback play from Geno Smith. If he becomes the starter in 2015, Petty will get a very capable group of receivers to throw to in Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and newly drafted Devin Smith from Ohio State.
Petty's measurables and situation coming into New York are similar to that of Blake Bortles, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. Here's how they stacked up coming into the NFL.
|Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash||Vert Jump|
It's no secret that Bortles had a terrible first year in Jacksonville. With a Passing NEP per dropback of -0.18, Bortles ranked last among all quarterbacks in the NFL with over 150 pass attempts. Bortles was also sacked 55 times, threw 17 interceptions and completed only 58.9% of his passes.
If Petty can transition to the Jets' offense from the spread offense he led in Baylor, he could become a solid NFL quarterback with time. In 2015, expect a performance closer to that of Blake Bortles than Andrew Luck, if he even ends up starting. I don't doubt his potential or physical skills, but he's walking into a situation that will destroy his rookie season like Kryptonite. Stay calm Jets fans, this may take a while.