Christian Hackenberg’s first career NFL start was so bad that maybe the New York Jets should consider yet another “redshirt” season.
Yes, he’s vastly inexperienced, having already had a “redshirt” season during last season’s rookie campaign when he didn’t take a single snap. And, yes, he was going against a frisky first-team Detroit Lions defense during his first half of action. And, yes, no other starter gave him any support.
But what Jets fans saw in Detroit on Saturday night sure looked like yet another failed Jets second-round pick.
Bryce Petty, long the forgotten man in this alleged two-man quarterback derby between Hackenberg and veteran journeyman Josh McCown, played much better than the former Penn State star. And while it should be noted that Petty (15-of-24, 160 yards, and an interception) played almost exclusively against the Lions’ backups, he showed far more poise, athleticism, and timing than the guy who initially leapfrogged him on the depth chart.
He also engineered the only points of the game for the Jets, something Hackenberg has yet to do at any point this preseason.
Against the Lions, Petty stood out, while Hackenberg was nearly laid out within his first couple of plays.
If Petty didn’t already pass Hackenberg on the depth chart, he at least had to pull even in head coach Todd Bowles’s eyes.
The head coach still wasn’t quick to give Petty praise for his work.
“He made some good throws, some good decisions, but we have to put the ball in the end zone," he said.
Bowles also almost gave Hackenberg a pass for his putrid performance.
“It’s not a fair evaluation of the kid because he didn’t get a chance on the couple of pass plays he had," he said. "There was a lot of pressure on him."
But to anyone who watched the Jets’ 16-6 loss in Detroit, it’s evident that Hackenberg may have just lost his shot at wrestling away the presumed No. 1 spot from McCown.
Hackenberg went 2-of-6 for 14 yards and a 42.4 rating. He was sacked twice, fumbled once, and did not lead the Jets to any points. Four of his five drives were three-and-outs and he could only muster just two first downs.
Overall, his preseason has been a mitigating disaster, as he’s yet to lead the Jets to any points in 13 possessions.
The Lions game was tough to watch from the onset. He was blasted on a sack that caused a fumble (the Jets recovered) and New York averaged just 2.2 yards per play with him in the game, netting 43 yards of total offense and minus-three yards passing when considering he was sacked twice for a loss of 17 yards.
That performance may have just played Hackenberg right out of the race, especially when considering the third preseason game is the customary “dress rehearsal” game where the starters play a bulk of the game.
McCown, who didn’t play in the Lions game, has played just one series in the preseason, so he figures to see a lot of action next week against the Giants.
The grizzled vet may have just won the quarterback battle by default, regardless of what Bowles publicly states about the competition.
When asked following the game if it’s safe to assume that McCown will be the opening day starter and that’s why Bowles didn’t need to play him against the Lions, the coach noted, “Not at this point.”
Whether the coach is being coy or not is up for debate. But at the very least it appears that yet another second-round Jets draft pick may have fallen by the wayside.