Gailey: Petty had to learn 'everything' when he got to Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Chan Gailey has been busy developing Bryce Petty from the moment the quarterback came to the New York Jets last year as a fourth-round draft pick.

The offensive coordinator had to start from scratch, though, right down to the basics.

''When he came here, coming from (Baylor's) offense, where they never even huddled, he had to learn huddling,'' Gailey said Thursday.

''He had to learn calling out the Mike (linebacker). He had to learn protections. He had to learn everything. He's come an extremely long way since he got here, but there was a long way to go.

''There's still some more he's got to do that I think, as time goes on, he'll get better at.''

Petty will start the final four games for the Jets in what essentially is an audition for next season. With New York in a four-game skid and out of the playoff hunt, Petty is replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick and hoping to provide a spark.

The first real test begins Sunday at San Francisco. The previous time he was a team's unquestioned starting quarterback was in the Cotton Bowl in 2015, when Petty threw for a game-record 550 yards in Baylor's 42-41 loss to Michigan State.

''I'm sure there will be some nerves, but he's been in big games before,'' Gailey said. ''But this is a different scenario and he's done it once before. I think he'll go out there and handle the emotional part fine.''

The Jets' biggest uncertainty heading into next year is at quarterback, with Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith scheduled to be free agents, and Petty and second-rounder Christian Hackenberg inexperienced.

Petty could help ease those concerns with a solid finish.

''You always expect the best,'' Gailey said. ''You expect a guy to go out and play extremely well. I think we all realize there will be some bumps in the road, but you expect the best.''

It's debatable whether Petty is truly ready to assume a starting role in the NFL, considering all the factors that went into him getting to this point.

Fitzpatrick was benched twice after being re-signed for one year and $12 million, failing to live up to his big performance last season when he threw a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes.

Smith's chance to reclaim the starting job lasted less than two quarters when he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Baltimore on Oct. 23.

With Hackenberg still considered a major project, Petty was the last man standing. But, Gailey always believed Petty would reach this point, where he's a starting quarterback - despite all the work to get here.

''He made a statement when we were talking one time,'' Gailey recalled. ''The question came up, `You've been in that offense. Can you learn what we need you to do?' He said, `I learned Baylor's offense and learned how to go play in it. I can learn this offense.'

''So the confidence factor led you to believe that he would be able to do it, yes.''

Gailey said the Jets' offense won't change significantly with Petty running it, aside from a few things that will be slightly different.

He wouldn't reveal those, of course, knowing that the 49ers will try to make things difficult on the young quarterback.

''They can rush on the outside, they create problems with outside edge rushers,'' Gailey said. ''They're good at it, and third down is where they really create their exotics, and bring a lot of exotics - which I assume they'll do again, making Bryce figure out what all he needs to do to get it protected. So, that will be one of the big issues.''

Petty already has one NFL start under his belt after filling in for an injured Fitzpatrick against Los Angeles on Nov. 13. He was still just the backup then, with some fans and media clamoring for him to get a full shot at the starting gig.

Well, here it is. And, he's trying to take his new role in stride.

''I think it's just trying to take the same mentality I've always had, which is just control what you can control,'' Petty said. ''That's my preparation and my work coming in every day, who I am in this locker room and as a teammate. I know I sound like a broken record, but the rest really will take care of itself.''

NOTES: S Antonio Allen (concussion), RT Breno Giacomini (back, calf shoulder), WR Jalin Marshall (concussion), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) and RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg) all didn't practice. Robinson was ruled out for the game by coach Todd Bowles. ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson on the Jets' lack of sacks: ''Maybe a little tighter coverage and we get those sacks.'' He insisted he wasn't taking a shot at the secondary, but added: ''It works hand-in-hand. We can get to the quarterback, but if (the secondary) isn't holding them for that 1 second, the ball's out.'' The Jets have 20 sacks, tying them with the 49ers for 30th in the league. ... Bowles said there's ''a good chance'' WR Devin Smith will be active this week. He hasn't played since tearing a knee ligament in a game last December.

---

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.