By William McInerney
The Jets quarterback situation is unarguably a mess. On the roster, they have Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick who did not play at all last year in what was essentially a redshirt season; Bryce Petty, a fourth-round pick who played six games last year, and did not put up the greatest numbers (more on that in a little bit); and Josh McCown, who is a journeyman quarterback, and was probably brought in as a mentor to the younger players.
Petty last season completed just 56.4% of his passes for 809 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. These numbers are not great, but it is important to note he was playing behind an offensive line comprised almost entirely of backups, and not particularly good ones at that. Plus, he had a wide receiver group that didn’t have much depth after losing Eric Decker to injury. He often had no time to throw and got put on his back seemingly every snap. That said, he did have his issues, such as decision making, although that could be a result of being forced to rush passes.
He didn’t prove he’s the future of the team, but I don’t believe he showed he can’t be an NFL quarterback either. Given an entire year to prepare as the starter (remember, he went from the third string to starter in about a month and a half), he may put up better results. Maybe not, however, as his seven interceptions did scare me, although a couple of those were on balls tipped by his receivers. Petty did have to leave a couple of games with injuries and ended the year having shoulder surgery, so that’s also a concern.
The Jets brought in the veteran McCown as well this offseason. McCown has shown some flashes of being a decent quarterback in the right setting, but he’s also 37, can’t stay healthy, and has shown flashes of being a really horrible passer, frankly more often than showing good flashes. Even if you go into the season with McCown as the starter, you need to be ready for him to get hurt and be ready to go to your backup.
McCown has a career 59.1 completion percentage and a 78 QBR. Although he has shown some flashes, he clearly has not been able to maintain that for any prolonged period of time.
The final quarterback the Jets have on the roster is Hackenberg, a second-year player who did not take a snap last year. Although he was inconsistent in college and a lot of people felt the Jets reached, it is important to note his best season was in a more pro-style offense. There have been members of the organization who have said they don’t believe he’s going to be good (all anonymously, otherwise they wouldn’t be members of the organization anymore).
Although that may be true, the Jets invested too much to give up on him without playing him. When you’re rebuilding you simply don’t give up on a second-round pick without putting him in some games. He shouldn’t be handed the job, but he also shouldn’t be ruled out.
There has been a lot of talk about the Jets drafting Mitch Trubisky. While I understand there is a need there, he isn’t worth the sixth overall pick and he won’t be there in round two. If the Jets were a quarterback away that would be a risk worth taking, but there are just too many holes on the roster to reach for a signal-caller with one year of experience. Plus, putting someone with that little experience behind a subpar line is not the answer.
It may be a brutal year for the Jets at quarterback.. It probably will be. There is no proven option on the roster. But reaching for Trubisky isn’t the answer either. It may not be pretty, but the Jets need to see what they have before reaching for another quarterback.