Another offseason and the story hasn’t changed. The front office of the New York Jets shouldn’t be proud of what they have at quarterback.
The New York Jets undoubtedly have the ugliest quarterback situation in the NFL. If you can find a trio as unreliable as Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg, you have a lot of explaining to do. What’s scary is that talent is only part of the issue. It’s mainly the inexperience of Petty and Hackenberg along with McCown’s inability to stay healthy.
The 37-year-old played a combined 13 games in 2015 and 2016. He hasn’t even logged a full season in his entire career. New York would be silly to expect him to play more than half the year without getting hurt. The inconsistent offensive line won’t help his cause either. His highest game total (14) was in 2004 with Arizona.
When he’s on the field, he’s your typical game manager. In the last two seasons, he threw for 3,209 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on a 60.4 percent completion percentage. That stat line is respectable in Cleveland. It’d be even more respectable if he could replicate it under new offensive coordinator John Morton. It’ll be much more challenging with Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson as his two best options. Nonetheless, his primary hurdle is the injury bug.
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Petty isn’t far off from McCown in terms of poor health. The Baylor product suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the Week 16 blowout in Foxboro.
He underwent surgery in January and partook in OTAs with no setbacks in May. For now, he seems to be at full strength, although things could change as the weeks go on. One more injury could put him out of the starting job discussion for good.
He also needs to put his 2016 campaign in the rearview. In the six contests he played in, he racked up 809 yards, three touchdowns and seven interceptions on a 56.4 percent completion percentage. Those numbers are underwhelming for a guy the coaching staff had faith in moving forward. If this keeps up throughout training camp and the preseason, he’ll be locked in at third on the depth chart.
The big question mark is Hackenberg. If his progression chart had a shape to it, it’d be a rollercoaster. One week his confidence is sky high and he’s completing passes in practice. The next week he’s hitting reporters on the sideline and frustrated with himself. The key for him will be his arm strength and toughness, two of the reasons why general manager Mike Maccagnan pulled the trigger on him in the second round. Accuracy and awareness are an obvious work in progress.
He showcased his throw power in three seasons at Penn State and dealt with a horrendous offensive line post-Bill O’Brien. That forced him to learn how to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball under pressure. As a result, his completion percentage (56.1) and interception totals (31) were bad, however, it was a learning curve that can help him at the professional level. Is Hackenberg going to be next franchise quarterback? The odds are certainly against him, but this year he’ll get his opportunity to inch toward that status.
The bottom line is that this group isn’t going to win the Jets many outings in 2017. It’ll take an incredible leap from any of these three to keep the passing game competent. You may very well see Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen in Green and White in 2018.