It has almost become a rite of passage every year in Jets’ camp: a quarterback competition that leaves the organization and the fans with more questions than answers. This year is obviously no different as Gang Green is deciding between a 38 year old journeyman at the tail end of a pedestrian career, a 2nd-year project quarterback that is clearly not ready to start, and a 3rd-year quarterback that is known more for his takes on pizza than his play. To say that the Jets quarterback situation is less than desirable is an understatement, but at some point the team has to name a starter. Let’s take a look at the options:
When the Jets paid Josh McCown $6 million guaranteed it was quite evident that he was being brought in as the “hold the fort” guy while the team figures out what they have in Hackenberg and Petty. McCown is a vocal leader that will run the offense and provide a good example for the young signal callers. Unlike Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh is a team first guy that works diligently with his teammates to get everyone on the same page and comfortable within the offense.
The strong armed second year quarterback has no doubt improved, with his footwork and pocket presence light years ahead of last season. Hackenberg is making better reads and getting rid of the ball with improved accuracy. Unfortunately for Christian there are some still issues coordinating the huddle, identifying defenses, and running the offense with confidence. These areas will improve with time and game reps, but when he gets those remains to be seen. It remains a shame that the team kept 4 quarterbacks last year limiting valuable reps for Christian.
For reasons that remain unknown the Jets relegated Bryce Petty to the third string from the first day of camp. Petty has received limited reps with mixed results, which is no surprise considering that he is learning a new offense. Petty appears more fluid and confident than Hackenberg yet has not received the same opportunities to run with the first team and impress the coaching staff. Does the organization know something that we do not? Based on performances in practice, I am not so sure.
And the winner is…
The practice limits due to the collective bargaining agreement really hurts the development of young quarterbacks. Both Petty and Hackenberg could use the reps, especially with the starting unit. The Jets decision to hold back Petty essentially makes it McCown vs Hack, and after Saturday’s performance it is evident that Christian is not ready for week 1 on the road in Buffalo. Starting McCown gives the Jets their best chance to win, which is the goal in the NFL whether you are in “tank mode” or not. Fans may want to lose for a coveted draft pick, but teams do not work like that. If and when McCown falters it will be interesting to see who gets the opportunity to replace him. You can make an argument that it should be Petty, but it seems Mike Maccagnan and the Jets are hell bent on proving that Hackenberg can be their guy.