The New York Jets’ quarterback situation this past regular season was absolutely disastrous. The likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty and Geno Smith combined to throw 16 touchdowns compared to 25 interceptions. Needless to say, the substandard play at quarterback is one of the reasons the Jets finished with a disappointing five wins.
Despite this, rookie second-round pick Christian Hackenberg did not see the field for a single snap. In fact, New York started Fitzpatrick in its meaningless Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills.
On the surface, that makes absolutely no sense. Why not go with a young quarterback and give him an opportunity to get some experience as his rookie season concludes?
That’s until we realize the feeling within the Jets’ organization is that Hackenberg was absolutely nowhere near ready to play. This is a stance that general manager Mike Maccagnan repeated on Thursday.
Jets GM Mike Maccagnan said QB Christian Hackenberg has made progress and that he likes him "as a prospect." #Jets
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) January 5, 2017
Calling a player that just finished his rookie season a “prospect” can be taken just one way. That’s usually reserved for actual prospects. You know, those individuals teams study heading into draft season. It’s not a term front office executives tend to use when talking about players currently on the roster.
The signals we seem to be getting from New York’s front office is that Hackenberg is nothing more than a project. He’s years away from being considered a starter-caliber quarterback. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for late-round picks. Quarterbacks selected in that area of the draft are usually deemed projects. This most definitely isn’t the case for those selected in the second round.
Why is this terminology important? New York heads into the offseason with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith as good as gone. That leaves Petty and Hackenberg as only two holdovers at quarterback. This seems to be an indication that the Jets will either draft a quarterback high or find a stopgap option in the veteran market.