The surprising 3-4 New York Jets season is actually a blessing in disguise for second-year Penn State product Christian Hackenberg.
The New York Jets are off to a surprising start. Despite only sitting at 3-4, they’ve already matched the win totals that many people projected them to finish the season with, including many of us here at ESNY.
However, the team has looked really good this season, especially on defense. So much so that some have begun to roadmap a path to the playoffs for the team. While the playoffs may be a little unrealistic, landing in a position to land atop-tierr quarterback is also looking somewhat unrealistic.
Which is great news for Christian Hackenberg.
Hackenberg was picked in the second round prior to last season, and has yet to appear in a regular season game. There was some hope that he could take the starting job entering this season and the Jets could see what they had in him, but no such luck as Josh McCown won the job.
McCown has, to the surprise of many, had a very solid season. Entering play against the Dolphins in week seven, he’s completed 70.1 percent of his passes with 1,374 yards, and seven touchdowns. He has six interceptions, but that number is skewed by multi-pick games attempting to lead combacks against the Bills and Patriots.
McCown has played well enough where he isn’t likely to lose the starting job anytime soon, especially to a kid with no experience. This has been the best football of McCown’s career, and it’s helped the Jets to a surprising start.
Six to eight wins is definitely possible for the Jets this season, which would eliminate them from the competition for the high draft pick that would be required to get a stud quarterback.
However, with McCown on a one year contract and being 38 years old, it’s not certain he’s back with the Jets next season. This leaves Hackenberg with a chance to compete for the starting job again next season.
The Jets could potentially trade up in the draft to get a quarterback or sign Kirk Cousins. However, neither are particularly likely. Despite all the dysfunction with the Redskins, it’s ultimately very unlikely that they will let a player who has shown he’s an above average NFL quarterback leave, and if he does leave, it will probably be to join Kyle Shanahan with the 49ers.
Trading up for a quarterback is always an option, but it doesn’t really fit Mike Maccagnan’s style. He prefers to sit on picks, especially the high value ones that he would need to give up to get a quarterback. Thus, it’s very likely that the Jets could enter the season with Hackenberg, Bryce Petty, and a veteran quarterback competing for the starting job.
Thus, Hackenberg could get another shot next year in training camp. While it’s entirely possible he just isn’t good enough to hack it in the NFL as a starter, it’s also very possible that he could take steps after an entire year of practicing in John Morton’s offense.
It will be up to him to make the most of it, but Hackenberg could definitely get a shot next season. It’s not ideal to enter your third season with no experience, but having a shot at winning a starting job is better than being cast aside for a new player having never had a chance to prove yourself.