In a perfect New York Jets world, former second-round pick Christian Hackenberg would become an elite quarterback and leader for a franchise that desperately needs both.
Hackenberg, however, doesn’t figure to assume either role anytime soon. That’s because he was thrown off the practice field for failing to correctly break a huddle.
Seriously. That happened.
“Oh, man, that has to be a sign . . . that he’s not coming along as fast as they want him to – or maybe taking it as serious as the team wants him to,” former Jets safety and current CBS Sports college football analyst Erik Coleman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I was at that scrimmage on Saturday night, and Christian Hackenberg looks like he’s progressing. Last year when I watched him in training camp, I had to kind of grimace a little bit because of how the ball was coming off his hands. He was throwing the ball hard, but it was nowhere near where he was trying to throw it.”
Hackenberg didn’t play as a rookie but might see the field this season – as long as he, you know, figures out that whole huddle thing.
“He’s getting more accurate, he’s getting more composed, and he’s going to progress,” Coleman said. “I don’t know if he’s going to be the starter or he’s going to be that quarterback who they can lean on, but I think he’s making strides and working in that direction.”
Still, Coleman, who played in the NFL for nine seasons, has never seen a quarterback disciplined in this manner.
“Never,” he said. “Never. I’ve never really seen a quarterback get embarrassed like that in front of the team. They always kind of hold them in high regard and have them in that lead position. But to kick him out of practice, they have to be pretty frustrated with his progress. That’s never a good sign if you’re trying to move forward with him as the leader of your team getting kicked off the field. So they’ve got a long way to go.”
Indeed, it could be a long season for the Jets, who went 5-11 last season, lost leading receiver Quincy Enunwa to a neck injury, and have perhaps the worst quarterback depth chart in football.
Coleman, who played for the Jets from 2004-07, tries to be fair when critiquing the team, but he also tries to be respectful.
“I try to be critical of their actions – not them, personally,” he said. “The players respect that. I’m around the players a lot, so in that sense, it’s getting better. But it is hard. You’re used to preparing for a game for you to go out there and play – not studying other people’s tendencies or just talk about them. As defensive players and linebackers and safeties, we have to do all the communicating and all the studying and talking anyway, so I think it’s a smooth transition over to talking about it on the television side.”