Last night's game might have opened up the race to be Ryan Fitzpatrick's backup quarterback job a bit. Geno Smith had a rough game, while Bryce Petty played his way into the discussion for the job. We still have two weeks to go, and my guess is Smith remains the favorite. Let's take a look at how this became a real competition last night.
On his first throw of the evening, Geno was looking for Jalin Marshall.
It looks to me like Geno throws late and gives the defender an opportunity to jump all over this. The ball should probably be coming out around this point if Geno is intent to throw at Marshall.
Here's where Marshall is when the ball is actually coming out.
I think this ball either has to be thrown earlier, or Geno has to look somewhere else. There is nowhere to put this throw. Maybe Geno's footwork was bad here because the timing seems off. He isn't in throwing position by the time this ball needs to come out. I don't know how he was taught to run this play so take it with a grain of salt, but it looks like he might have added a fourth step to a three step drop. His first step seems to be with his left leg. Typically on a three step drop, a righty's first step would be with his right leg.
Watching some of the other plays, I felt like this might be the way Chan Gailey is instructing his quarterbacks to work. So I tried to figure out as much as I could here. From what I could gather, it seems like Jets quarterbacks are taking the extra half step with their left leg in the shotgun to gain a little extra depth before they have secured the ball. This step happens when the ball is in the air so that by the time they have received the ball, they can take their first true step with their right leg.
See here how Ryan Fitzpatrick is taking that first step with his left leg as the shotgun snap is coming to him.
By the time he has secured the ball, he is making his first true step on his dropback with his proper right leg.
Same thing here. Extra step is happening with the left leg, but it is happen as the shotgun snap is in the air. It hasn't been secured yet. By the time he has the ball, his first real step is with his right leg.
Now watch Geno on this play.
That left foot doesn't start back until after he has received the ball. So this little cheat step has in essence added an extra step to his drop, making a three step drop a four step drop. Everything is a tick late. He isn't ready to throw when Marshall is open, and when he does throw, it is late as a result.
Unfortunately, this was just the start of a rough night. Here is a play where I think Geno makes a mental error. He does a nice job evading the rush. Since he has gotten himself out of the pocket, all he has to do is throw the ball away and make sure the pass gets to the line of scrimmage. He doesn't put enough on it, though, so it goes for an intentional grounding. In the context of the game, it was a third down so it didn't hurt a ton. The Jets would have had to punt either way. In the context of development, this is a really silly error that you'd like to see a fourth year quarterback avoid.
Plays like this next one should be a quarterback's best friend. It should be an easy read and an easy completion. Jace Amaro is open. All Geno has to do is put the ball in front of him to hit him in stride, and this should be an easy completion, a first down, and a nice gain. Instead, Geno just misses. The ball is behind Amaro, and this turns into an difficult catch that Amaro can't come up with. Even had he caught it, the inaccuracy of this throw would have made this a much smaller gain than it should have been because of how much Amaro had to adjust.
This leads us to an egregious interception. Look at the window where Geno is trying to fit this ball (red). On second down here, he needs to check this down to Jace Amaro (yellow), take whatever yardage he can get, and make his third down a little more manageable.
I talked a little bit last week about how Geno was too locked onto his reads, and it comes back to bite him here. Will Blackmon is reading his eyes and breaking on the ball before it is even thrown.
The result is not pretty.
This was a fairly troubling night for me. I don't want to make sweeping declarations after one game. With that said, for the talk there is about how Geno is improving, this is another batch of rookie mistakes. The stuff we see here isn't about a bad offensive coordinator or bad receivers. These are on the quarterback.
Now let's talk about Petty so we can get onto a happier note.
Now it wasn't all spectacular success for Petty. There were a few moments of inexperience that were evident. Unfortunately they do not provide us with the all 22 film in the preseason so I can't tell you exactly what coverage Washington is running on this play. Suffice it to say, though, that when a defensive back can undercut a route like this and get his hands on a pass, it was not a smart decision. Petty was lucky to not be intercepted here.
Here's a play where I think Petty shows a bit of inexperience. He's looking at Robby Anderson with a linebacker driving down from Anderson's right side. If Petty throws right into the yellow area, he is leading Anderson away from the defender and setting him up to run. He doesn't throw Anderson open, though, and the pass is incomplete.
We are talking pretty advanced level stuff here so I don't think you can get on Petty too much for not having this down at the start of his second season.
This one here is just a plain misfire. This is an easy completion and yards left on the field.
Petty's inexperience does shine through so I don't want you to leave last night thinking this is a totally polished product who should relegate Ryan Fitzpatrick to the bench right now. With this said, there was a lot to like about Petty's performance last night.
You saw evidence of Petty making quick, decisive reads and delivering the football on time.
This isn't the type of play you are going to see on SportsCenter, but it is the type of throw that keeps the offense moving and picks up important yardage.
This one is incomplete, but it is again a quick read by Petty and an accurate throw that hits Jalin Marshall in the hands.
Here is a basic yet smart decision. Petty looks down the field, doesn't like what he sees, and checks it down to Julian Howsare. Instead of throwing an incompletion to make it third and ten or risk and interception, he takes what the defense gives him and turns it into a manageable third and two.
Here is a beautiful job of baiting a cornerback. Petty throws a pump fake, and Jeremy Harris bites. He has no choice but to grab Jalin Marshall to impede his progress, or this could be a touchdown.
Petty's two touchdown passes were things of beauty. Look at the tight window he fits the one to Zach Sudfeld into. This window is open for less than a second.
He has to put it high enough to drop it over Washington safety Deshazor Everett, but not so high as to overthrow Sudfeld. If the ball is any further to Sudfeld's left, it risks being broken up. Any further to the right, and it might be too difficult to adjust to it. This is an impossibly difficult throw, and it was made beautifully.
What makes it even more impressive is that Petty made this throw while being hit.
The second one similarly a great throw. Petty sees he has the one on one he wants and throws a perfect pass. Anderson makes a perfect catch on his end.
After this game I wouldn't go as far as to say Petty should get the job. I wouldn't even say he is the favorite. I think Geno is the likely backup and perhaps is even a strong favorite. I would say one bad outing by Petty or one great outing out of Geno might lock up the job for Geno.
The thing is going into last night, I would have said Geno is a lock. The way the two guys played has opened the door for Petty even if only slightly. If he plays lights out for the rest of the preseason, and Geno looks shaky, the Baylor product could earn the number two job.