By Brad Carroll
I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d actually be thanking New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, a guy I wanted fired following his second season, but here I am in gratitude for giving me what I wanted and pleaded for since the middle of last season. Christian Hackenberg got his shot to prove himself as a possible first-string quarterback Saturday night, getting the surprise start and playing the first half against the Lions in the second preseason game.
Bowles, who probably wanted to prove a point to not only myself, but the entire fan base as well, threw Hackenberg to the wolves and those wolves feasted on the second-year quarterback. The wolves (or Lions, you could say) made it clear Hackenberg isn’t ready to be a starting quarterback, and if he is, he certainly didn’t prove it Saturday. It was a pitiful performance by the entire offense, resulting in zero points, and gave a glimpse into how bad this season could be, no matter the quarterback.
Hackenberg was under distress throughout, but he didn’t do himself any favors either. On one sack, he used a short drop-back, but didn’t get rid of the ball quick enough. The offensive line was bad as a whole, though. Hackenberg finished 2-of-6 for 14 yards. The best play he made was a 12-yard scramble on third down to pick up a first down. Of course, if that’s the only highlight, it’s a bad day for a quarterback.
As we reflect here on Sunday, the quarterback competition we were all following this training camp has ended, and the guy who didn’t even play Saturday will be the Week 1 starter. The job is Josh McCown’s. Unfortunately, no one can complain about it.
Bowles gave Hackenberg his shot and everyone saw the results.
Bryce Petty played OK in the second half, going 15-of-24 for 160 yards and an interception, but the bottom line is zero touchdowns. In two games, only McCown has led a touchdown drive, and he only played one drive. Think about that. In basically two full games, Hackenberg and Petty have combined for zero touchdowns and six points.
Of course, it’s not just a quarterback problem, as the entire offense is easily the worst in the NFL. There’s Bilal Powell and, well, nobody. The wide receivers are terrible, the tight ends pedestrian and the offensive line is full of holes. It’s going to be a rough season for Jets fans, and will be even worse if the defense plays as it did Saturday.
So, it’s not completely fair to judge Hackenberg, or Petty for that matter, off this roster. But it’s not going to get any better.
Still, I have to thank Bowles for giving me what I wanted, now I can sit back, watch the season unfold and think ahead to the 2018 NFL Draft, because getting the top pick and the best quarterback available could turn into the only positive from this season.