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Jets Quarterbacks Navigated a Rocky Road

Three QBs Started in 2016, Hackenberg Had a Redshirt Season


Last Season Review
After directing an offense that set a franchise mark with 5.925 yards in 2015, veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signed with the Jets in July and was on the field for the team's first training camp practice. Expectations were high for Fitzpatrick and the offense considering he set personnel bests with 3,905 passing yards and 31 TD passes while leading the team to 10 wins in his first season with the Green & White.

Following a one-point loss at home to the Bengals in Week 1, Fitzpatrick threw for 374 yards in a Thursday night game at Buffalo as the Jets totaled 493 yards and 37 points in an impressive victory.  But things took a dramatic turn in Kansas City 10 days later. In a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs, Fitzpatrick was intercepted six times and soon one of his favorite targets — WR Eric Decker — would head to injured reserve with a partially torn rotator cuff.

The Jets went on a four-game losing streak and an ineffective Fitzpatrick was replaced by backup Geno Smith in the fourth quarter of a Week 6 loss at Arizona. Between Weeks 3 and 6, Fitzpatrick was intercepted 10 times and he had two touchdown passes as the Jets offense failed to find any rhythm.

Smith got the call in Week 7 against Baltimore, but his season ended when he suffered an ACL tear in the second quarter. Fitzpatrick came on in relief, guiding the Jets to a 24-16 win over the Ravens followed up by a 31-28 triumph over the Browns.

The Jets suffered a gut-wrenching defeat to the Dolphins at the season's midway point as Bryce Petty saw some work when Fitzpatrick went down with a knee injury. The latter was ruled out against the Rams and Petty made his first career start in a 9-6 loss.

Following their Week 11 bye, the Jets went back to Fitzpatrick for a pair of games. Petty replaced him in the second half of a Monday Night loss to the Colts and then Todd Bowles announced that his plan was to start Petty the final quarter of the season.

Top Photos of the Jets Quarterbacks During the 2016 Season

Petty displayed moxie in leading New York's AFC representative to a comeback win over the 49ers, but he was forced to leave the next two games early. The second-year passer, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder against the Patriots and he finished the season on injured reserve.

Fitzpatrick, Petty and Smith combined to complete 56.5% of their passes with 16 TDs and 25 INTs while being sacked 35 times. The Jets finished No. 27 in passing (216.6 yards per game) and No. 30 in scoring (17.2 points per game).

Looking Ahead
Smith has an expiring contract and Fitzpatrick will also be a free agent. Both Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick who had a redshirt season as a rookie, are under contract.

"There's nothing wrong with Christian. He just needs to play," Bowles said of Hackenberg. "Like I said when we signed him in the offseason, Fitzpatrick had a great year last year. Geno was coming back strong as his number two and Bryce was making progress as the number three. So he was allowed to have a redshirt year. Next year, he has to show some progress and make the same jumps."

After making his first four professional starts, Petty is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

"With Bryce going forward, I'm not necessarily going to speculate on what his ceiling may be," said GM Mike Maccagnan. "I think Bryce has a lot of potential. When it's all said and done, it's really up to Bryce to determine what player he's going to eventually develop into. I do think he has the physical ability to potentially develop into a starter. It's really how he progresses and develops, so that's kind of up to him."

The NFL's league year commences on March 9 and then the NFL Draft will follow the weekend of April 27-29. The Jets' QB plan will come to light in the weeks and months ahead.

"That's something we'll talk about upstairs," Bowles said at his season-ending news conference. "We have a lot of questions that we have to answer ourselves before we can tell you guys."

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