Christian Hackenberg isn’t ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, not even close.
If the Jets have their way, he won’t play in another NFL game until next summer.
Hackenberg reminded us why with his performance in the Jets’ preseason finale, a sloppy 14-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night.
For the second consecutive week, the rookie was intercepted on an ill-advised throw. This one resulted in a pick-six for Eagles’ safety Ed Reynolds.
Mistakes happen, we see it all the time in the NFL. It’s what players do afterwards which is where they’re truly evaluated.
When Jets head coach Todd Bowles was asked how he hopes Hackenberg will respond afterwards, he expressed confidence in his young quarterback.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of responding,” said Bowles. “It’s just a matter of getting better. The more you play, obviously the more comfortable you get.”
“You’re going out and playing an NFL game with a bunch of young guys that have never really played,” Bowles continued. “There’s going to be some miscues and mistakes. It’s nothing to get down. It’s something to learn from. Christian is a bright guy and he has a great football IQ, and I’m sure he’ll learn from it.”
Bowles is right to talk up Hackenberg’s upside, he knows the young man was drafted so highly was for a specific purpose in mind. That purpose has nothing to do with this year’s team.
When the Jets used their 2016 second-round draft pick to select Hackenberg out of Penn State, it was not about the present. This was an obvious look towards the future by second-year general manager Mike Maccagnan.
Hackenberg was already projected to be a long-term project with enticing potential. He’s got the look and size of an NFL quarterback with a big arm. Now he needs to mature.
How he makes his adjustments to the pro game will ultimately determine how he pans out.
If the plan was for Hackenberg to play this year, the Jets would be in serious trouble and Maccagnan would most likely be asked by fans to leave his credentials at the door on the way out.
The Jets have made the decision to carry four quarterbacks on their roster this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick is this team’s starting quarterback, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty are options 2A and 2B.
Hackenberg will have a great view of it all from the sidelines with a clipboard and earpiece, he’ll have the best seat in the house. It is his job to be a sponge soaking up all the good and bad an NFL season has to show.
It remains to be seen if Hackenberg will develop into a franchise quarterback, however what’s for certain is he’s right where he belongs on the depth chart for 2016.