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John DeShazier: Jets quarterback Bryce Petty lacks experience but not talent

Posted Dec 15, 2017

Saints players know Petty has strong arm

Public salivation would be unprofessional, unbecoming and un-Saint-like.

No way would there be an audible projection that, because the Jets (5-8) are starting relatively unproven Bryce Petty at quarterback on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Saints (9-4) eagerly await their introduction to the 2015 fourth-round draft pick.

But the NFC South Division-leading Saints have had success in similar situations this season, when facing quarterbacks who have short NFL resumes.

In Week 7, Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley made his first NFL start in relief of injured Aaron Rodgers. Against the Saints, he completed 12 of 25 passes for 87 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception, and was sacked once. He ran three times for 44 yards and a touchdown in a 26-17 Saints win.

The next week, Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky made his fourth NFL start. In a 20-12 Saints victory, Trubisky completed 14 of 32 passes for 164 yards and no touchdowns, with an interception, and was sacked twice. He ran three times for 53 yards.

Sunday, Petty is scheduled to make his fifth NFL start, and first this season. He replaced injured starter Josh McCown on Sunday and completed two of nine passes for 14 yards in his 2017 debut. In his career, Petty has played in seven games, completing 77 of 142 passes (54.2 percent) for 823 yards and three touchdowns, with seven interceptions, and has been sacked 13 times.

Petty last started a game in Week 15 last season. It was an abbreviated appearance – he didn’t complete a pass in three attempts and was sacked twice against New England, but left in the second quarter when he injured his shoulder while making a tackle off a teammate’s lost fumble. The week before, in his last extended playing time, he completed 20 of 36 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions, was sacked three times and lost a fumble in a 34-13 loss to Miami.

Still, the absence of numbers and experience haven’t led to a bubbling overconfidence publicly, even after the Saints posted one of their best games of the season in pass defense – limiting last year’s NFL MVP, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, to 221 passing yards on a 15-for-27 showing, while intercepting him three times and sacking him once.

Petty is starting, so he’s a dangerous man.

“He’s a guy who has a strong arm, can make all the throws,” said Saints linebacker Craig Robertson, who has 56 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery this season. “So you really don’t even look at experience, you’re just trying to see what they’re going to do gameplan-wise. And just, like I say all the time, just focus on your keys and everybody doing their own job – that’s the biggest thing you’ve got to do when you’ve got a new quarterback coming in.”

Robertson said the scouting process isn’t a difficult one, though the tape isn’t voluminous.

“You kind of go through that all the time in preseason,” he said of facing quarterbacks with limited NFL experience. “But in terms of scouting, it’s just, what has he done well? And when he was at Baylor, he was a guy that could throw the ball down the field and has a strong arm. So he’s definitely a guy that can make all the throws. So you have to be on your Ps and Qs and just not let him get in a groove early, and just keep him off his spot.”

A key factor in that, linebacker Manti Te’o said, will be making the Jets one-dimensional. New York averages 103 rushing yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry. If the Saints want to delve into Petty’s inexperience, they first will have to put him in obvious passing situations.

“Regardless of whether they have an inexperienced or an experienced quarterback, you always want to shut down the run first, to make any team one-dimensional,” Te’o said. His snap count increased against Atlanta after A.J. Klein injured his groin, and likely it will be significant against the Jets because Klein has been declared out for Sunday’s game.

“If you can shut down the run, it plays into your favor, regardless of whether we’re playing the Jets, the Falcons, the Patriots – whatever it may be,” he said. “You want to make sure that you stop the run first.

“If you can’t stop the run, it’s going to be a long day for your defense. That’s definitely a point of emphasis for us this week. We know that they like to run the ball, that’s going to be something that we’re going to focus on.”

Then, attention can be directed toward making Petty the third inexperienced, but unsuccessful, quarterback they’ve seen this season.