EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Remember the Geno Coaster, those wild rides from Geno Smith's mistake-prone days as the New York Jets' starting quarterback? That particular attraction, if you could call it that, is in storage, probably for good.
Buckle up for the Petty Coaster -- if it remains in operation, that is.
In his second start as the No. 1 quarterback, Bryce Petty gave the chilled and sparse crowd at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night a couple of moments of hope and many moments of agita. He started well but lost his touch and committed three turnovers as the Jets eventually succumbed to a better team, falling 34-13 to the Miami Dolphins.
Petty finished the game in the locker room, victimized by a bone-crushing sandwich courtesy of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Neither was blocked as the Jets' offensive line stood still, its timing thrown off by an early snap. Petty was a sitting duck, and he was smashed by the Miami defensive linemen. You could feel his pain in the press box.
Welcome to the Jets, kid -- the franchise that squashes hope and ruins young, ambitious quarterbacks. Petty is starting to resemble Glenn Foley, one of the flavor-of-the-month quarterbacks from the 1990s. Remember him?
According to the Jets, Petty suffered a chest injury and will have a CT scan Sunday to determine if there's any lung damage. X-rays were negative and he insisted, "I'll be fine."
You have to admire his spirit; the reality isn't quite as bright.
Petty showed why coach Todd Bowles was so reluctant to play him earlier in the season. After a terrific first possession, he became easy prey for the Dolphins, who schooled him at every turn.
"He made too many mistakes," Bowles said. "He wasn't the only one. He had a lot of help. We didn't play very well."
Petty was replaced by Ryan "Nine Lives" Fitzpatrick, who could return to the starting role if Petty's injury is significant. The Jets won't play Christian Hackenberg unless it's an emergency. If you think Petty is raw, wait until you see Hackenberg.
The Jets dropped to 4-10, their third double-digit-loss season in the past five years, but the record isn't important at this point. It's all about evaluating young players, and Petty is at the top of the list. If they can't do that because he's hurt ... well, that would be so same old Jets.
As for Petty's performance, it was the reverse of Week 14: hot start, lousy finish.
This time, Petty (20-for-36, 235 yards) didn't experience early-game nerves. In fact, he started with a snazzy 75-yard possession, culminating with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. The most encouraging part about the touchdown was Petty's pre-snap read. He recognized a favorable coverage for Anderson, changed the play from a run to a pass and hit him on a crossing route.
Baby steps, right? It was the Jets' first game-opening touchdown drive since Week 1, if you can believe that.
"I saw the field really well," Petty said. "I just missed a couple of throws."
Petty moved the ball on his next two possessions, but they ended with turnovers inside the Miami 28 -- a strip sack by Wake and an interception by Wake, who fooled the young quarterback by dropping into coverage. Later, Petty underthrew a deep pass to Anderson and was intercepted by Tony Lippett.
Petty failed to recognize basic blitzes, resulting in unblocked pass rushers. It wasn't just an offensive-line thing.
"A lot of that falls on him as well," Bowles said.
Of course, he didn't get much help from a makeshift offensive line, down three starters, which suffered a myriad of breakdowns. It overshadowed a terrific game by Jets running back Bilal Powell, who amassed 162 yards from scrimmage -- including 11 catches for 78 yards.
Actually, the Jets were in the game until the second half, but they collapsed under a calamity of mistakes: a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown and pass-coverage blunders, resulting in four touchdown passes for Matt Moore. They made Moore, in his first start since 2011, look like Dan Marino.