Welcome back to another edition of the Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, brought to you by PrimeSport, official sponsor of the New York Jets.
- The New York Jets want Christian Hackenberg to start as soon as possible. They did not defy the majority of the draft and NFL community by taking him 51st overall to watch him spend his second season on the bench behind a below average 38 year old quarterback. They didn’t freeze him in carbonite in a basement in Florham Park for his entire rookie year to watch Josh McCown putter around into helicopter tackles and interceptions this season.
It will be very concerning if Hackenberg cannot beat out McCown this summer or at least put enough pressure on him to have a short rope. It is already somewhat concerning the Jets felt the need to spend 6 million dollars on McCown because of hesitancy around Hackenberg being ready. They could have spent pennies on TJ Yates, Matt McGloin or Chase Daniel, opening a more clear path to Hackenberg starting week 1. However, the amount spent on a player who started last year gives pause to the amount of internal confidence the team has on Hackenberg being “ready” this year.
2. Why should they have confidence? Hackenberg was a middle round pick who was a generally bad football player his last two years at college. He spent the overwhelmingly majority of his rookie season as the teams’ 4th string quarterback, meaning on a day to day basis he was splitting scout team reps in practice. In a limited sample size, he was abysmal in the preseason (17/47, 159 yards, 3.4 YPA, 1 TD, 2 INTs). There have been multiple anonymous reports on him struggling mightily in practice. He is also now being tasked with learning his second NFL offense in two years. At a minimum, doesn’t it seem less likely than more likely he will be prepared to be a NFL starter in 2017?
3. So what did the Jets see in Hackenberg? This was our film breakdown of him last season. The company line is he has all the physical tools necessary to be a competent starting NFL quarterback and the Jets didn’t need to invest a premium asset to obtain him. Initially, the rhetoric was that Chan Gailey would get the most out of him and he’d benefit from learning behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. The rhetoric is now the combination of Jeremy Bates and Josh McCown will fill those roles but ultimately it will come down to Hackenberg and if he can “fix” his flaws from Penn State.
4. What does Hackenberg need to fix? The biggest problems are accuracy, wildly inconsistent footwork and basic mechanics breaking down when he is under pressure. The hope is that with improved mechanics and a strong supporting cast, he can take advantage of his big arm and prototypical size.
5. As a Jets fan, there is nothing you should want more than for Hackenberg to be good. It means the quarterback question is finally answered. It means Mike Maccagnan saw something most other scouts and GMs did not. It means you can relentlessly cite my old incorrect tweets and harass me. I am going to be first person buying and wearing a Hackenberg jersey if he is a good starter. You would not believe this but I would rather watch good football from my favorite team rather than be right about a player.
6. Personally, I did not think highly of Hackenberg in college or as a prospect. It feels disingenuous to change that opinion because the team I follow drafted him, particularly when there has been zero evidence of improvement to date. Ultimately, I do think the Jets will looking for a different answer at quarterback in 2018.
7. Contrary to what Joe Namath says, he needs to earn his position this summer. He should have nothing handed to him. It will send the wrong message to the team if he is named starter, despite not outplaying McCown and/or Bryce Petty.
8. Post-draft, my suggested ceiling for Hackenberg was a poor man’s Jay Cutler without the attitude problem and a floor of a poor man’s Rex Grossman. There hasn’t been any reason to change that to date.
9. I don’t apologize for any of the Han Solo GIFs last year but in an effort not to be redundant, we’ll work on a new pop culture reference to accompany his play. We had a good run, carbonite but with Hackenberg likely no longer to be inactive we sort of need to let you go…
10. How much does Hackenberg need to show this season to merit the Jets not taking a quarterback high in the 2018 NFL Draft? My estimation is you would need to see 8-10 solid starts, trending in the right direction as the season progresses.
11. How much does your faith in Mike Maccagnan decline (if it hasn’t already substantially declined) if Hackenberg cannot beat out Josh McCown this summer and when he does play, is no better than Bryce Petty in 2016? Is it fireable? Or does he get to draft another quarterback after being wrong on Fitzpatrick’s second contract, Petty and then Hackenberg?
12. Finally, a prediction. Josh McCown will start the season under center and get replaced by Hackenberg sometime between week 7 and week 9. Let’s say Hackenberg starts 8 games. He will finish with a 57 completion percentage, 9 TDs, 11 INTs, a 6.9 YPA and an average of 212 yards per game.
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