Christian Hackenberg not ready for No. 1 job, but shows progress

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Yes, Christian Hackenberg can throw the ball in the ocean. Turns out he can even hit a few big puddles.

The second-year mystery man answered some questions in the New York Jets' preseason opener Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, delivering a respectable performance in his first game action in a year. Hackenberg completed 18 of 25 passes for 127 yards in the 7-3 win over the Tennessee Titans, his only turnover a botched snap.

Hackenberg's production was not great -- no points in eight possessions -- but you have to grade on a curve when it comes to the former second-round pick. He's better than last summer. He was decisive in the pocket, his accuracy was relatively sharp and, no, he did not pick off any spectators on the sideline with errant throws. In short, he was not overwhelmed.

New offensive coordinator John Morton did not ask Hackenberg to do too much, a smart way to break him in. Can Hackenberg overtake Josh McCown for the starting job? No, that's not going to happen in the preseason, but this game was not about that. This was about seeing progress from Hackenberg, and he showed that.

QB depth chart: McCown, the presumptive Week 1 quarterback, started the game and orchestrated a touchdown drive on his only possession. He was close to flawless, completing 3 of 4 passes (one drop) for 72 yards. McCown showed deep-ball accuracy, hitting Robby Anderson on a 53-yard bomb -- something we have not seen in training camp. He finished off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake. This was just a tune-up for McCown; look for him to play more next week. Bryce Petty (2-for-6, 17 yards) cleaned up, and it was not pretty.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Jets looked : They actually looked like a decent football team. Am I surprised? Yeah, a little bit, considering the ragged performance by the offense in the first two weeks of training camp. It was a small sample size -- one possession -- so let's call it a baby step in the right direction. In fact, the last time they scored on the first possession of the preseason was 2003. The starting defense was sharp in two series, forcing two punts. Defensive end Leonard Williams (one sack) was a beast and linebacker Demario Davis looked faster than in the past, making a nice tackle in pursuit.


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