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We have a better idea why the New York Jets didn’t play Christian Hackenberg in either of their first two preseason games.
Hackenberg, the Jets’ second-round pick, got a long look in the fourth preseason game after Bryce Petty injured his shoulder. Hackenberg produced a stat line that is hard to believe.
He completed 11-of-31 passes for 54 yards.
Again … 54 yards on 31 attempts.
It’s almost impossible for an NFL quarterback to have less than 2 yards per attempt in a game (especially going against a defense sitting all its starters in a preseason finale), but Hackenberg did it. And here’s the frosting on that cake: Hackenberg had an interception returned 90 yards by the Philadelphia Eagles for a touchdown.
Hackenberg was a questionable pick. He was inaccurate at Penn State, and looked like a mid-round (at best) developmental pick. The only thing keeping his draft stock afloat was a freshman year in which he was throwing to Allen Robinson, now a star receiver with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was coached by Bill O’Brien, now the Houston Texans’ coach. Hackenberg didn’t do much at Penn State after that. The Jets still took Hackenberg in the second round. He was selected two rounds before the Dallas Cowboys took Dak Prescott.
Hackenberg was the only drafted rookie quarterback who didn’t play in the first two preseason games, which was odd. But the Jets have four quarterbacks on the roster, so that seemed to be the reason they didn’t use their second-round pick in two games that didn’t count. Hackenberg played some in last week’s preseason game against the New York Giants and didn’t look bad. Thursday night, he looked bad.
The Jets’ quarterback mess might get even worse. Petty’s right arm was in a sling and he’ll have an MRI on his shoulder Friday. The Jets were considering keeping four quarterbacks — starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, No. 2 Geno Smith, Petty and Hackenberg — but Petty’s injury gives the Jets an out, if they want to put him on injured reserve.
The Jets have used valuable picks on quarterbacks in three of the last four drafts, yet still were hoping all offseason that 33-year-old Fitzpatrick would come back and play for them. It’s too early to write off Hackenberg, but his preseason finale shouldn’t inspire much confidence.
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