Bryce Petty, the Jets' philosopher quarterback, reminded reporters today that "You've got to know where you've been to know where you're going." He's aware of both the road past and the road ahead and, like the "young pup" he says he still is, he's looking forward to doing battle for a second straight December with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
"Yeah, hopefully, we come out with both shoulders so that will be a positive," he jested after today's practice, recalling that a year and three days ago, besides getting the start and taking the loss, he left early in the second quarter with a torn shoulder labrum.
"I love that environment," Petty said. "And I think that last year I really didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be loud, and the Patriots, and all that encompasses, but I don't know if I was necessarily prepared for it. 'Overwhelmed' is a strong word, but I wasn't ready for it.
"I think this time coming around, we had the Saints, which is kind of a good tuneup as far as atmosphere and what it's like playing in a loud atmosphere. So it'll be good and exciting."
If Petty truly knows where he's going, he knows Sunday could be tough sledding in the possibly minus-1 degree wind chill conditions against the 12-3 Patriots trying to lock up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. But he's throwing caution, and the imperfect starts against the Saints and Chargers, to the wind and preparing to duel New England's bend-but-don't-break defense.
Head coach Todd Bowles wants to see the duel as well. He proclaimed Petty the starter for Game 16 and left the door open only a little that the Jets and their fans will see Christian Hackenberg in relief.
"It's the last game of the season. Bryce had a chance to play games, we're trying to see what we have in him," Bowles said in response to the now weekly set of media questions about his QB depth chart. "Christian's time will come. To put him out there the last game and expect him to be Superman, we'd be fooling ourselves."
"We'll see how Bryce goes, but I don't feel the need to put him in this game," Bowles added. Then to a question about what will go into his deciding to give Hackenberg his first regular-season NFL snaps, he replied, "I'll decide during the game if I want to play him or not."
Best Snapshots from a Chilly Wednesday at 1 Jets Drive
However it shakes out by late on a chilly Sunday late afternoon in the Massachusetts countryside, Petty retains that confidence that he came to the Jets with in the 2015 draft. No memories of last year's game — of his 0-for-3, one-interception, two-sack line and 10-0 deficit when he left the game, not the 41-3 final score — can dim that optimism of getting off to a fast start and dueling Tom Brady for four quarters this time.
"It's not the outcome, it's the process," he said. "All I know is to keep grinding and keep working and keep working through this. That's something that I was able to go to sleep well with the other night, just knowing that this isn't the end, per se. Things aren't going to go your way, but it's about how you react to it. It's how you to respond to it.
"And I get another shot on Sunday."