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What’s Hackenberg’s future as an NFL quarterback?

Leslie Monteiro



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An anonymous Jets coach said Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean in rationalizing why the second-round draft pick was not given any consideration to start last year.

He wasn’t kidding after watching Hackenberg start against the Giants in Saturday’s preseason game. The second-year Jet was overmatched. Quite frankly, it was the worst quarterback play in the history of quarterbacks, and that’s saying something since there were the likes of Tarvaris Jackson, Spergon Wynn, Dan Orlovsky and Dave Brown that were awful in playing that position.

Hackenberg went 12-for-21 for 126 yards with one touchdown to show for it in the Jets’ 32-31 preseason loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium Saturday night. He threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns while being sacked three times, and he had a 23.6 quarterback rating in that game.


It shouldn’t be surprising he was not the starting quarterback despite having many opportunities to win the job. It’s not crazy to ask if he is capable of being an NFL quarterback. It isn’t about growth and learning. It isn’t about whether he has the supporting cast on offense to get it done. It’s about judging him with an eye test, and to quote Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, it’s bad optics right now.

Forget the fact Hackenberg can’t throw deep. He has other problems such as not knowing how to read defenses, picking up the blitz or controlling the line of scrimmage. He can’t even operate an offense. This is certainly not quarterback worthy, and one has to wonder if he ever will figure it out. Either a quarterback knows how to do it or he doesn’t.

His first four series was atrocious. In his first series, he was sacked, and he did not generate a first down. In his second series, he gave up a safety to the Giants. In his third series, he threw an interception to Giants safety Landon Collins, who returned it for a touchdown. In his fourth series, he was sacked, and he did not generate a first down.

It was so bad that it was remarkable Jets head coach Todd Bowles left him out there for the entire first half. What was there to watch? He is not fit to play a game in the NFL. In the first half, he finished 8-for-15 for 60 yards and the Giants scored nine points out of his first three drives.

So what if he threw a late touchdown pass against the Giants reserves? It means nothing.

His awful performance comes after a hideous preseason performance against the Lions, which he completed 2-for-6 for 14 yards. Overall, he led the Jets to only 10 points in 22 drives this preseason, not to mention he is 28-of-46 (60 percent) for 201 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) with two interceptions and one fumble.

This is disappointing for the Jets brain trust. They were hoping for modest improvement. They couldn’t even get incremental improvement out of their second-round draft pick. It’s hard to believe he will get that chance again when the Jets focus on drafting the next quarterback of the future in next year’s NFL draft.

Hackenberg’s struggles is an indictment of Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan. It should make one wonder what exactly he saw in this quarterback to make him his second-round draft pick. It wasn’t like he was great at Penn State.

If Maccagnan can’t get it right with two quarterbacks that he drafted in Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, what makes anyone think he will get the next quarterback in next year’s draft right if the Jets don’t win the Sam Darnold sweepstakes? Even if the Jets get the No. 1 pick to draft Darnold, what makes anyone think the Jets general manager can get it right in building around the USC quarterback?

If the Jets complete the worst scenario of going 0-16, Maccagnan may not get the opportunity to draft the next quarterback. Odds are there will be new administration that will draft Darnold and build around him in the next few years. Hackenberg could be the reason why the Jets general manager could lose his job.

It’s no wonder Maccagnan has so much invested in Hackenberg. He was hoping his draft pick can salvage something this season by starting. He hoped his project would encourage the Jets to have faith in him in finding the next quarterback next year.

Wish Maccagnan luck. It’s hard to believe Hackenberg has the arm, size, skills or intelligence to be an NFL quarterback.

Saturday’s game not only cost the former Penn State quarterback a starting job, but Thursday night’s game against the Eagles probably is his last snap in the NFL with the trajectory he is in.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.