Christian Hackenberg knows what’s being said. The talk of him being labeled a bust. The disappointment from fans on his apparent lack of development. The rumors of the Jets tanking in order to draft another quarterback.
He hears it. He’s not ignorant — he just doesn’t care.
“I understand it’s a marathon, not a (sprint),” Hackenberg told The News after practice last week. “It’s a progression. You’ve got to take your lumps. You have to keep finding ways to continue to get better.”
Hackenberg initially appeared to take a small step forward on Sunday, after Todd Bowles named the second-year passer the team’s backup quarterback behind starter Josh McCown for the Jets’ 21-12 season-opening loss to the Bills at New Era Field. However, that promotion was simply out of necessity, as sources told The News Hackenberg was the team’s No. 2 signal-caller only because Bryce Petty was not fully healthy. Petty, who was inactive for Sunday’s loss, would have been the Jets’ preference to back up McCown had he been healthy.
The decision to elevate Petty over Hackenberg was immediately criticized by fans on Twitter, who were unaware of any lingering injury concerns with Petty.
“How bad must Bryce Petty be if he is inactive over Christian Hackenberg,” asked one fan.
Christian Hackenberg has yet to take a single snap in a regular season game but vows he’s getting better.
“Ridiculous. Petty was best in Preseason,” wrote another.
“I’m boarding up my windows in Brooklyn in anticipation of the coming storm of Christian Hackenberg errant passes,” was another of the comments.
Hackenberg is no stranger to such criticism, having been the subject of Jets fans’ ire since the team selected the former Penn State quarterback in the second round of the 2016 draft.
Hackenberg said he has grown accustomed to harsh judgment from fans, but also added there are a number of positives in his development that the media and fans have chosen not to focus on.
“There are a lot of positives in there too, but it just seems that, at times, the negatives stand out to the majority of the people,” Hackenberg told The News. “And I just think that’s where you have to be mentally strong.”
Christian Hackenberg says he just has to ‘keep finding ways to continue to get better.’
While Hackenberg had his share of nice throws in practice during training camp, he struggled throughout the preseason. Playing mostly against team’s opposing first- and second-string defenses, Hackenberg completed just 42 of 74 passes (57%) for 372 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two picks and was sacked nine times for a loss of 59 yards.
Despite the fact Hackenberg has yet to throw a regular season pass, let alone start a game, fans are already clamoring for the team to tank in hopes of drafting USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen.
“I stay out of that. It’s their opinions and stuff,” Hackenberg told The News when asked about Jets fans hoping the team selects a quarterback in this year’s draft. “My job is to just come in every day and continue to get better… and be prepared for when that opportunity does come.”
Seven quarterbacks from the 2016 draft class have already started at least one game since entering the NFL. So until that opportunity comes (and he produces) Jets fans will continue to criticize Hackenberg, whether he cares if they do so or not.