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Former Jets bust gets brutally honest about New York tenure

Christian Hackenberg, NY Jets, NFL
Christian Hackenberg, NFL, New York Jets, Getty Images

Former New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg explains why he believes he wasn’t set up to succeed in New York

It’s no secret that the New York Jets have struggled with drafting quarterbacks. Because of that, there’s little doubt as to why the team jumped at the chance to trade for four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

One former Jets quarterback has claimed that being drafted by New York helped lead to his career failing. Speaking on the “Ross Tucker Podcast” on Monday, former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg discussed his football journey, including his time with the Jets.

“There’s so many circumstances that go into [how my career played out],” said Hackenberg. “When I came out [and declared for the NFL draft], I still knew that I needed a lot that I needed to get better at. But in the same token, I had all these expectations and this narrative out there that this kid [referring to himself] being really good. It was just this kind of battle, internally.”

Despite those internal battles plaguing him, the Jets selected the Penn State prospect with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. However, Hackenberg claims that being taken by the Jets might have been the worst thing for him.

“New York was probably the last place I should have gone,” continued Hackenberg. “In terms of the market, the expectations, the way it was. In my rookie year, we ended up keeping four quarterbacks, so there was not a lot of opportunity for me to develop and grow. [There was] no plan, kind of an up and down organization. It was just one of those things where I think just the timing and where it ended up just wasn’t in the cards for me at that position. When I look at it introspectively, I was young, I needed a lot of help, and I needed a lot of direction and guidance [that] I never sought out. So that’s where my shortcoming was. I didn’t do those things until it was ultimately too late.”

For Hackenberg, the lights may have been too bright in the Big Apple. The former No. 1 overall college recruit then attributed his career flameout on the New York media and the lack of opportunity with the Jets.

“The New York market had eaten me alive,” claims Hackenberg. “I never had a chance to defend myself on the field. It was just that perfect storm of messaging [and] getting eaten up and chewed up.”

While Hackenberg’s tenure with the Jets could be described as an uphill battle, it’s hard to blame the staff for his shortcomings.

In 2016, Hackenberg was a second-round pick entering a wide-open quarterback room. It featured a 34-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, a former second-round pick who had already been benched in Geno Smith, and a 2015 fourth-round pick in Bryce Petty. In 2017, there was even less competition, with only Josh McCown and Bryce Petty starting for the Jets. Despite that, the Penn State product never saw regular season action with the Jets.

Given Hackenberg’s comments, it seems there is some lingering animosity towards the Jets. After all, when he was traded to the Raiders in 2018, the Penn State product blamed New York’s staff for not fixing his poor throwing motion.

Although the Jets’ quarterback luck hasn’t changed since Hackenberg’s departure, green grass seems to be on the horizon. Now, with Aaron Rodgers under center, the Jets have gone from a perennial doormat to playoff hopefuls. And if they’re able to end their league-leading playoff drought, the team may be able to end their quarterback drought, as well.

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