New York Jets Film Room – Christian Hackenberg vs. Lions

Joe Caporoso breaks down the film on Christian Hackenberg against the Detroit Lions…

Christian Hackenberg had a somewhat encouraging preseason debut against the Tennessee Titans, earning him the opportunity to make his first career start agains the Detroit Lions this past week. The results were…not pretty. Shield your eyes and let’s dive into these statistics and tape:

Final Stat Line

  • 2/6 (33%), 14 yards, 2.3 YPA, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
  • Sacked twice for 17 yards (-3 total yards net passing)
  • 2 carries, 11 yards
  • 1 fumble on sack recovered by Jets
  • 0 points generated from offense when on field

Alignment On Passing Plays 

  • 5 shotgun
  • 5 under center (1 knee taken)
  • 1 play action

Completions By Route

  • 2 swing or screen routes (neither were thrown past line of scrimmage)

Incompletions By Route 

  • 1 nine route
  • 1 slant route (dropped interception by defender)
  • 1 slipped out of his hands
  • 1 drop on flat route

The Good

After initially staring down a 5 yard in route on 3rd and 10, Hackenberg thinks better of it, steps up in the pocket and runs for a first down, showing decent athleticism. Converting 3rd and long is always a good thing, no matter how you are getting it done.

There is nothing else positive to include in this section so here is a GIF of the Night King throwing an ice javelin at a dragon. Look at that arm in the cold weather and the release with the pocket collapsing around him…SIGN HIM UP!

The Bad

The initial reaction to this sack was to blame the New York Jets offensive line but Hackenberg’s lack of field awareness and ability to set protections is to blame as well. Damien Woody explained why below:

We saw this at times from Bryce Petty last regular season. If you can’t recognize where the free blitzer is coming from pre-snap, these types of hits will happen, especially if you lock on to one read and never take your eyes off him.

The Jets get exactly what they want on this play as the protection holds and their top receiver, Robby Anderson, runs by the corner for a should be home run. Part of the argument for playing Hackenberg is his arm strength and ability to stretch the field but if he can’t hit these throws, his arm strength is useless. This should probably be a touchdown but instead the pass barely stays in bounds.

This is another predetermined throw from Hackenberg. He decides before the snap he is throwing to the slant route no matter what. The cornerback squats on the route, taking it away but he forces it anyway, throwing the ball high. The pass is deflected and should be intercepted. You can blame Peake for not making a difficult catch but this route is covered and the ball should not be going to him. It should be checked down to an open Bilal Powell for a first down.

When you are only throwing hitch and slant routes on the first read, defenses will squat on these routes. The hitch route is easily taken away by the cornerback here and Hackenberg throws the ball out of bounds .

It is hard to decipher what Hackenberg is doing here. He appears to want to take a three step drop and throw a hitch route (surprise!) but he takes a sloppy 2.5 steps and then doesn’t let it fly. He then tries to pivot without backing up further leading to an easy sack. The footwork here is an atrocity and something you would normally see from a high school quarterback taking his first ever snaps under center.

It appears Hackenberg is trying to throw a 2 yard crosser to Robby Anderson on 3rd and 8 here but the ball slips out of his hands. He may have been looking to a deep in cut that was well covered (off the screen) but regardless the ball ends up directly in the turf. Jets fans get sensitive when media members make Hackenberg jokes but if plays like this continue, they will not go away. This is a well protected play, the ball needs to be thrown down the field so the team has a chance to move the chains.


Let’s cut through any BS, Hackenberg was a trainwreck against Detroit and that may be an insult to wreckage. He has now been through two games, thirteen drives and has still produced zero points with a YPA under 5. He is a one read quarterback with no field awareness who is consistently inaccurate when attacking down the field. There is no rational statistic or video evidence that demonstrate he is capable of being a starting NFL quarterback and it is debatable if he even merits the Jets backup job right now…and they have arguably the worst QB situation in the NFL.

He is likely to play with the second stringers for a few series against the Giants before playing a big chunk of the fourth preseason game vs the Eagles, a game that rarely features anything but third stringers and players soon to be cut. Unless he gets hurt and completely melts down, Josh McCown will start week 1. For now, Hackenberg needs to worry about holding off Bryce Petty to be the backup.

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports