When the Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the implication was that they considered him their quarterback of the future. Not right away, mind you -- last summer, the team brought Ryan Fitzpatrick back on a one-year deal -- but Hackenberg would presumably be in the running for the job heading into the 2017 season.
And perhaps that can still happen -- but if offseason team activities are any indication, the Jets might be in the market for a franchise quarterback next offseason. For starters, 38-year-old journeyman Josh McCown, signed in March, has outplayed Hackenberg this spring and is likely in line for the starting job. And then there's this from NJ.com's Connor Hughes, who documented Hackenberg's performance during OTAs.
When Hackenberg misses... he really misses. He threw just two interceptions in team drills, but nearly tossed six others. And I'm not talking about a receiver falling down. I'm saying the defender just dropped the ball. Other times, the wideout/running back/tight end was wide open, and Hackenberg sailed it over his head or bounced it to him. That can't happen. In the three media-open OTAs, Hackenberg hit reporters with passes twice.
Hughes' words reminded us of another Jets quarterback with accuracy issues:
(And no, we're not saying that Hackenberg is the next coming of Tim Tebow, but that .gif certainly seems fitting.)
It's not all bad, however; Hughes writes that the second-year quarterback has improved his footwork, which was an issue last season. He's also making better decisions.
"I think that's an area where I can improve on and that's something that I want to focus on," Hackenberg said. "I think it's not being the gunslinger in terms of, like, I own that. But I want to be able to frame the game and understand, like what I was saying, understand when you can take those risks and when you can't."
And there have been glimpses of improvement under new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.
One interesting item to pop up this spring: Jets are pleased with the way QB Christian Hackenberg has looked. The Jeremy Bates effect.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 24, 2017
If there's a silver lining to all this, the Jets are expected to be one of the league's worst teams this season so if ever there was a stress-free environment to see what Hackenberg can do, this is it. That said, it's also hard to evaluate a player -- especially a quarterback -- when he's surrounded by replacement-level talent.
Next up: Jets minicamp begins next week and then players will have a month off before reconvening for training camp July 31.