The Christian Hackenberg era with the New York Jets is officially over. He was traded yesterday to the Oakland Raiders for a conditional seventh round pick. The 2016 second-round pick never saw the field for the Jets and was only active for five total games. In reality, the Hackenberg era never really got off the ground and that is a microcosm of the Jets lately.
Since taking over the helm of the Jets in January of 2015, GM Mike Maccagnan has selected three quarterbacks beginning with 2015 fourth rounder Bryce Petty and the latest, 2018 first round pick Sam Darnold. Petty was released earlier this offseason and now Hackenberg finds himself in Oakland.
Petty is the only Maccagnan draftee to see the field, though Darnold will almost certainly barring something catastrophic. Petty appeared in 10 games, seven of them starts, and was, for the most part, awful. He went 1-6 as a starter, completed just 53.1 percent of his passes, threw four touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But at least he saw the field. Hackenberg, who was drafted one year after Petty but two rounds ahead never even got the chance.
There were reports that Hackenberg wasn’t ready. How bad could he have been when compared to Petty’s performance that the Jets, even when their seasons were lost but games still had to be played, never let him in a game to see how he handled himself?
If we are being honest here the Jets have had a less than admirable track record of identifying quarterback talent in the NFL Draft and an even worse record of developing it. It doesn’t matter who the general manager or the head coach are. The list of quarterback misses is long and well known to Jets fans who still cringe at names like Mark Sanchez, Browning Nagle, Glenn Foley, Geno Smith, Greg McElroy, Erik Ainge, and the seemingly endless list of free agents that have come and gone without making much of a mark.
When the Jets drafted Hackenberg there were a lot of eyebrows raised. He struggled mightily in his last season at Penn State and went from Heisman candidate to afterthought. His blaming the coaching staff at Penn State didn’t endear him to many either. The Jets still used a second-round pick on him. Then cast him aside and he was rarely seen again. That is a lot of draft capital wasted. A second round pick that doesn’t even see the field is a major setback for an organization that needed to hit on draft picks during a rebuild.
Jets fans know all of this. They are tired. They are tired of the losing. They are tired of the quarterback carousel. They want hope. Right now there is hope with Sam Darnold and maybe even Teddy Bridgewater. Maybe this is the year the carousel stops. The real question is does the Jets’ front office know? Will they set Darnold up for success or will he be another name added to the list? There is hope with the Jets, hope that Hackenberg was the last rider on the carousel, that his expulsion was the closing of a chapter in the Jets’ history book of failures. Hackenberg had to go.
The Hackenberg era in Florham Park is over without really beginning. The Sam Darnold era is set to begin and hopefully the Jets can end their quarterback misery. The new era couldn’t begin without expunging the past mistakes, the removal of failed talent and misused draft choices. Perhaps a new age really has dawned in Florham Park.