By Ernie Palladino
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So now, at long last, Jets fans get to see what the fourth round of the 2015 draft brought them.
The final four games of this miserable 3-9 season belong to Bryce Petty now.
He’s welcome to them.
This won’t be a picnic for the poor kid. Given his performances in his first-ever start and Monday night’s second half, he really isn’t ready to take over an offense. Todd Bowles, the lost-in-space coach who has consistently maintained that Petty and Christian Hackenberg simply weren’t ripe for prime time, now hands the reins to Petty because, well, he’s got nothing else to lose except some meaningless games.
Oh, and his job. But leave that issue for another day since he’s presently staying put.
It may well turn out that Bowles was right all along. It may be that it was the only thing he was right on this year, given Petty’s combined 30-of-57, 298-yard passing totals from his Nov. 13 start against the Rams and an up-and-down second half against Indianapolis that included two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The coach said he planned to give Petty the final quarter of the season anyway. But Bowles had little choice but to commit to the switch early thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s inability to generate anything offensively and the defense’s decision to start the offseason early.
For Petty, it means stepping into a leadership role on a team that has, for all intents and purposes, gone home. Packed up, exited the building. It has abandoned the coach, the general manager and owner, Woody Johnson, who must be wishing hard for that ambassador’s post good friend and President-elect Donald Trump is rumored to be considering for him.
At this point, someplace safe and far, far away from the mess he currently presides over sounds enticing, at least for the fans who invested their good time and money in watching Johnson’s latest failure. Great Britain has been mentioned.
Someplace with bad cellphone service might be better so he’ll be forced to leave general manager Mike Maccagnan to his own instincts as he tries to buy and draft Gang Green out of long-term misery.
Outer Mongolia perhaps?
Petty, meanwhile, will get to show the world whether he is indeed the Jets’ future at quarterback. Whoopee!
He steps behind pass protection operating without a left tackle and a game but banged-up Nick Mangold at center. He will be called upon to salvage what’s left of a season that winds up with AFC East foes Miami, New England and Buffalo.
Unless the defense suddenly finds a conscience after an unconscionable, uncompetitive effort against the Colts, Petty will find himself playing from behind from the get-go. And that’s a tough way for anyone to build a resume.
Besides that, he has much to learn in a short amount of time.
He must understand that Robby Anderson is not the only receiver on the Jets. They also have a guy named Brandon Marshall, who has done considerably more in his career than the undrafted rookie has.
Petty must learn to feel the inevitable pass rush that will seep through the hurting front, and slide through the pocket to avoid it.
He must learn his check-downs at hot receivers because no defense will let him throw consistently to his strength, the deep ball.
And he must do this all in short order and having spent nearly half the season watching Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith gobble up all but a handful of practice snaps.
The first-string reps are all his now, as are the games. Barring injury, Fitzpatrick’s Jets career ended with the interception he threw near the end of the first half.
From here on in, it’s all Petty.
If he can revive the shamelessly lifeless Jets, he might just win himself a starting job for 2017.
But he’ll have to overcome an impossible situation to achieve that.
Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino