Jets rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg made his long-awaited preseason debut on Saturday night against the Giants. When a second round quarterback gets his first NFL game snaps, it is a significant story. What happened? Let's take a look.
The first pass of the night shows you why Hackenberg has a lot of intrigue despite some of the issues in his game and his college performance. Hackenberg scans the entire field and gets to his third read, Chandler Worthy. He delivers a strike in a spot where only Worthy can get it. The receiver does not come up with the pass, but this really should be a completion. It is a very good throw.
You don't really see a lot of 21 year olds who know how to scan the entire field like this. I haven't seen the other three Jets quarterbacks do much of this through their careers. It is something the top quarterbacks in the league do frequently. I am not saying I would put Hackenberg ahead of any other quarterback on the roster today, but this is a good thing to see on a first professional pass.
Here is another really nice throw by Hackenberg to Zach Sudfeld.
What I like about this one is the recognition and the placement. It doesn't matter that this is a covered receiver. Hackenberg makes it happen. Look at how Sudfeld is blanketed when the ball is thrown, but this isn't a bad decision. The defender is going to be in trail position with his back to the receiver. Hackenberg can lead Sudfeld into an open space where the tight end can beat the defender to the ball.
Not only is the ball ahead of Sudfeld, but it is low in a spot where only he can get it.
This is a case of a quarterback throwing his receiver open. This completion happens because of Hackenberg.
Here is a throw where you see Hackenberg throwing on time as Robby Anderson is coming out of his break. This is on time and down the field, displaying his anticipation and arm talent.
And on the touchdown, there is nothing super unusual, but still things to like. He identifies he's got the matchup he wants, Anderson against a safety. He throws to the spot before his receiver has broken open, and the pass has nice touch.
You can't make too much out of these plays coming against a bunch of fringe NFL players, but there are certain attributes you see that either are there or aren't regardless of the competition. You like seeing a lot of these things from Hackenberg.
It wasn't all good, and you can see why Hackenberg is a work in progress who probably could use some time to sit and develop.
Hackenberg's feet can be inconsistent, particularly out of the shotgun. Look how he's falling back here throwing this screen pass inaccurately. This should be a completion.
Here is a rookie mistake where he loses track of the clock. He's still trying to set the protection, but the play clock has already run out. It might have been a defense baiting a rookie.
And Hackenberg's biggest mistake came because he got fooled by an exotic look. I'm not sure how many times in the Big Ten Hackenberg had to account for a defensive lineman dropping into coverage.
These are the types of looks quarterbacks have to learn to adjust to in the NFL. Hackenberg might be best served learning these from the practice field.