But almost every team has players that can get to the quarterback. If Petty is going to prove he can be a starter, Sunday is a good a place to start.
Jets coach Todd Bowles said young quarterbacks tend to settle down in between their first and second starts. Petty, who was given a conservative game plan last week in a 31-19 loss at the Saints, completed 19-of-39 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and two picks.
His longest completion was for 38 yards. The other 18 completions went for 141 yards, or a meager 7.8 yards per completion. Jets offensive coordinator John Morton hinted that the Jets might take more chances downfield against the Chargers.
“As far as getting the ball down the field, I probably need to have a couple more opportunities to see if we can make a play down the field, there’s no doubt about that,’’ Morton said.
Petty, a former fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft out of Baylor, put up staggering numbers as a junior and senior. But that was in the pass-happy, defensive-deficit Big 12 conference.
He showed the shortcomings of a quarterback making his first start of the season last week -- the two picks, balls getting batted down at the line of scrimmage, happy feet and slightly off-target throws that made it difficult for receivers to gain yards after the catch.
Bowles said he will keep a sharp eye on Petty early.
“Just see how he manages the game, first of all,’’ Bowles said. “Obviously you’ve got to be accurate and understand where to go with the football but you look at the small things early and see where he is.’’
Petty played in six games last season, starting four. He completed 75-of-133 passes for 809 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Clearly he needs to have more impressive performances in the final weeks of the season for the Jets to consider not using their first-round pick on a quarterback. Petty was calmer in practice this week and looking forward to getting back in a game.
“The whole thing last year was I was still growing in the mental process and I still am,” Petty said. “But we’ve made so many strides. I knew exactly where I wanted to go with the ball. I’m seeing the field, seeing the coverage and that’s very positive.”