NY Jets Could Turn To Christian Hackenberg Over Bryce Petty If Fitzpatrick Flops

Only the NY Jets could create a quarterback controversy on top of a quarterback controversy.

As reported by ESPN, Jets coach Todd Bowles had yet to officially name a backup quarterback leading up to their game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

“Down to three quarterbacks, the Jets are holding a mini-competition this week to determine the No. 2 spot for Sunday. It’s Petty versus Hackenberg. On Wednesday, they both took some reps with the first team (customary for the primary backup), but Bowles declined to say which player got more work. He’ll make a decision by the end of the week.”

That decision, as reported by NJ.com, had been made, but Bowles refused to tell reporters on Friday.

“I’m not revealing that right now,” Bowles said. “I’ve decided, but I haven’t talked to [the coaching staff] yet, to tell them what I’ve decided. I’ve pretty much got my mind made up.”

With Geno Smith sidelined the rest of the year (and for the rest of his Jets career presumably) Bowles the NY Jets named Ryan Fitzpatrick their starter against Cleveland. At 2-5, the team is on the fringes of being eliminated from the playoffs. But with a string of winnable games on the schedule, Fitzpatrick will get the nod for now, but the fan base – and management – might want to start to think about what they have in their two young quarterbacks in Petty and Hackenberg, the latter being the team’s second-round draft pick this past season.

New York Jets Bryce Petty
[Image by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]

The odd thing about it, of course, is that everyone assumed Petty would make the jump to the team’s second spot after Smith went down, based on his performance in the preseason and the fact that the team inexplicably kept four quarterbacks. But Bowles said injury changed the team’s perceptions of the two QBs in the coaches eyes.

“Before the injury, they weren’t on equal footing,” Bowles said. “Petty was clearly ahead of him. He’s been hurt for a month, so the other guy got a lot of reps.”

Things then got testy when Bowles was pressed further by the media.

“No offense, but if I’m not going to tell you who it is. Why are we having this discussion? It’s really a waste of time. I’m not going to tell you anything. It’s not open for discussion, guys, let it ride.”

Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News wouldn’t let it ride, penning a column on the woes the organization has faced at QB and Bowles’ reluctance to name one the backup for this week’s game.

“If you don’t think Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg is their quarterback of the future, then what kind of immediate future are we talking about for the New York Jets? For now, the Jets prospects at the most important position in their sport and maybe all sports are as bleak as anybody’s in the NFL, as we do move up on 50 seasons since they won their one and only Super Bowl.”

As of game time, however, the Jets did indeed name Petty the number two quarterback behind Fitzpatrick. But that doesn’t mean the future won’t be coming sooner than expected and that Christian Hackenberg, not Petty will get the chance to steer the ship.

The irony of the New York Jets situation is that during the offseason, incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick held out throughout OTAs looking for the kind of contract awarded to unproven quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Brock Osweiler. The Jets stood firm however despite Fitzpatrick putting up record numbers that included 31 TDs and almost 4,000 passing yards in 2015. The Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in the second round fueling speculation that the team would move on from Fitzpatrick, but the two sides eventually compromised at $12 million for one year. Fitzpatrick essentially “bet” on himself to be the man here in New York.

But so far, all signs point to Hackenberg getting in there to show what he can do much sooner than expected.

[Featured Image By Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]