The New York Jets have nothing to lose and everything to gain in starting Christian Hackenberg in the season finale against the New England Patriots.
Forget about seeing the New York Jets in the NFL Playoffs since they were mathematically eliminated weeks ago. Ever since quarterback Josh McCown got hurt with a season-ending broken hand injury, head coach Todd Bowles said Bryce Petty and only Petty will be starting the rest of the way.
How has Petty been so far this season? Well, he’s 36/76 for a 47.4 completion percentage. He’s thrown for just 312 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Not only has Petty looked completely lost on the field but his inaccuracy is truly frightening at this stage of his career.
Petty can’t hit receivers in stride and often times overthrows or underthrows them on their routes. It’s come to the point where Petty looks like he’s tremendously regressed at this stage of his career and for the Jets, well, Bowles, to continue starting him after he noticeably looked in pain last week with a wrist/hand injury, truly boggles the mind.
The Jets even went so far as to have Christian Hackenberg warm-up on the sideline last week but didn’t even give him a series, not even a single snap, to see where he’s at in his development. Even when the Jets drafted Hackenberg in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, they knew he was a development quarterback that needed at least a year or two to be coached, trained, and mentored to make the most of his potential.
With just one game left in this regular season, Bowles is rather stubborn when it comes to giving Hackenberg a shot at starting a game, or even giving him maybe a half or heck, even a quarter of regular season experience. What better way to gauge where Hackenberg is at than giving him a chance?
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The Jets truly have nothing to lose by starting Hackenberg on Sunday in their season finale on the road against the New England Patriots. Petty has played so bad, that he’s already gotten more than enough opportunities to prove his worth and well, he’s barely a capable backup quarterback. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Jets decided to part ways with Petty in the offseason and focus on either acquiring a top free agent quarterback or drafting yet another player for the most important position on the team.
If Hackenberg is truly as bad as everyone says he is based on preseason action, team practices, and everything else in between, then giving him time during the regular season can only help him hone his craft. Let him run the Jets offense, go through his mechanics, and get a feel for what could await him in the future.
Then, of course, there is that big “if” factor about starting him on Sunday. You know, the huge “what if” situation that could bring an even bigger smile to the faces of Jets fans all across the globe. Imagine the statement the Jets would make if, by some miracle, Hackenberg steps in and plays extremely well? What happens if he gets under center and lights up the Jets offense to the point where they stun the reigning Super Bowl champions and not only ends the season with a huge win over a hated division rival but with the optimism that maybe, just maybe, he can be the quarterback this franchise has been looking finally been looking for?
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Overall, it’s time the Jets stop trying to shelter Hackenberg by keeping him on the sideline when one way or other, they need to give him a shot to see what he’s capable of. Either he’ll do bad or do well but surely, would more than likely be something different and maybe even better than what we’ve all seen Petty do the past three weeks since he’s been terrible. What do the Jets have to lose by letting Hackenberg start or at the very least, play a bit in the season finale? Absolutely nothing in a meaningless game. This would, at the very least, give the Jets clarity on where Hackenberg is after two years of riding the bench developing for such an opportunity and can only help both sides know what is on the horizon.