Jets GM reportedly says Hackenberg might play as a rookie . . . my take

Headline – “Mike Maccagnan: Christian Hackenberg could play for Jets as rookie.”

Headline – “Jets GM Mike Maccagnan doesn’t rule out playing Christian Hackenberg.”

These headlines emanated from a radio interview Jets GM Mike Maccagnan did yesterday on ESPN.

“I think, with any player coming into the league, there’s definitely a maturation process, and it doesn’t matter, again, what position you play,” Maccagnan said. “I think quarterbacks are probably one of the harder positions to transition into in the NFL. I know there’s always a desire and feel to have them go out there and play right away. The reality of it is, though, it’s going to be determined by how he does. And I think my personal opinion is we’ll see where he’s at and how he is in terms of assimilating to our offense and our system. But like I said, I think it’s a natural maturation process.

“I think in a perfect world, especially with quarterbacks—some quarterbacks come in and play right away, and some do well, and some struggle, and they go through growing pains. But I think at the end of the day, in a perfect world, you like to give those guys a chance to sort of grow, develop before you have to throw them into the fire.

“Hopefully if we can re-sign Ryan, and we have Geno, and kind of go from there and see how we do. And we also have Bryce Petty, who’s another quarterback we like quite a bit. So we feel good about our group of quarterbacks right now, and hopefully we’ll see how it all comes together. Hopefully we can get Fitz back at some point in time.”

Does it sound like Hackenberg is playing this year? I guess it depends on how you interpret the quote.

Theoretically, if there are a bunch of injuries, he could play.

But I agree with my old friend Mel Kiper on this one. He said if the Jets start Hackenberg in 2016, he’ll “be a bust.”

If Hackenberg started this year, it could be a dumpster fire.

After the last two challenging years at Penn State, in a system he didn’t fit, and a bad offensive line, he needs a couple of red-shirt years in the NFL.

He needs a lot of work on his footwork, accuracy and pocket presence. He needs to leave the spotlight for a minute.

Hackenberg was the highest-rated player on the Jets’ value board, so they picked him.

He wasn’t picked to start this year.

The Jets have perhaps the toughest schedule in the league, and have missed the playoffs for five years in a row. This isn’t the time to start a rookie quarterback. I personally think you never start a rookie quarterback, but that’s just me.

You bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick, which I think will eventually happen, and he’s the guy for the next couple of years. And you train the heck out of Bryce Petty and Hackenberg the next two years, and maybe one of them emerges as the guy. May the best man win.

The Jets should sit Hackenberg for a couple of years, and develop him the right way. The old-school way. Get him back to his freshman year form when he played in pro-style offense, and looked like a potential first pick of the draft.

You’ve got to find a franchise quarterback in the NFL or your chances of winning a Super Bowl aren’t great.
So keep throwing your line in the water until you reel in a big catch.

As Ron Wolf advises, pick a quarterback every year.

But the idea that Hackenberg could be a starter this year is insane.

*To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, click below.

Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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