NEW ORLEANS -- You know it, they know it, everybody knows it: The New York Jets have a major void at quarterback. That sobering reality never was more apparent than Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where coach Todd Bowles gave a tepid postgame assessment of Bryce Petty and proceeded to confirm (without hesitation, by the way) that Petty will start again next week.
What does that tell you? In Bowles' view, the gap between Petty and Christian Hackenberg is wider than Lake Pontchartrain. This means the Jets' quarterback pipeline -- under construction over the past three years -- is just about dried up. When your best hope for 2018 is a 38-year-old with a busted hand in Josh McCown ... well, it's time to start over.
Petty's performance against the New Orleans Saints reaffirmed what the Jets have known: They love his moxie and character, but they don't envision him as a future starter. Making his fifth career start and first of this season, Petty failed to deliver in key situations. On his first three trips to the red zone, he completed 2 of 5 passes for zero yards, a big reason why the Jets managed only 13 points on those possessions. He left too many points on the field, contributing to the Jets' 31-19 loss.
"He just didn't make any plays," Bowles said of Petty in the red zone. "Plays that we needed to make to win the game, he didn't make. He'll get better at that."
Petty's passing numbers were ugly (19-for-39, 179 yards) and he threw two interceptions, including a desperation heave at the end of the game. The best thing you can say about him is he didn't panic in the hostile environment. Petty was tough-minded, which surprised no one, but he lacked that special quality that separates marginal talents from starting-caliber players. The Jets made three takeaways yet only converted them into three points -- and a lot of that falls on the quarterback.
"Some plays he would like to have back, obviously," Bowles said. "He was a little high on some balls and a little low on some others. Poise-wise, he was into the game. He tried to execute the game plan. I think it was a good experience for him."
Petty was upbeat after the game, saying he did "good things, bad things." He blamed some of the errant throws on poor footwork, which he believes can be cleaned up. You have to admire his optimism. He threw a late 2-yard touchdown pass to running back Elijah McGuire, but his best pass was a 38-yarder to McGuire. In reality, Petty missed too many gimme throws. He was only 5-for-12 when targeting wideout Robby Anderson.
Petty also had a serious Cameron Jordan problem, as four of his passes were tipped at the line by the Saints defensive end. Petty caught one of the deflections and foolishly tried to throw another forward pass, a no-no that resulted in an embarrassing penalty.
In the locker room, Petty's teammates praised his effort, but the words sounded forced. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse refused to give his opinion of Petty's performance, and that was telling.
"I don't like to give assessments without looking at the tape," Kearse said.
This had been billed as Petty's last audition. He insisted he hadn't approached it that way; but, he acknowledged, "Every time I get in there, I feel like it's a chance for me to prove that I do belong and can be a starting quarterback."
By default, Petty will start next week at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. McCown is done for the year, and the coaching staff is deathly afraid of playing Hackenberg. The Jets find themselves in a dead-end situation at quarterback, playing out the string with signal-callers who could be elsewhere in 2018.