Jets OC John Morton on Christian Hackenberg: 'Basically, He's a Rookie'

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2017

New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The New York Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in 2016, but according to Jets offensive coordinator John Morton, the Penn State product is effectively entering his first NFL season.  

"Basically, he's a rookie," Morton said Tuesday, per the New York Post's Zach Braziller

Head coach Todd Bowles echoed that sentiment, citing a crowded 2016 depth chart that featured Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty as the primary reason for Hackenberg's inability to develop last year. 

"It's hard to get reps when there’s three quarterbacks in front of you," Bowles said, per Braziller. "I'm happy where he is right now. He's getting to play. He's learning. He doesn't make the same mistakes too many times, so he's getting better from there." 

Hackenberg, the 51st overall pick in the 2016 draft, didn't play one regular-season snap during his rookie campaign. In fact, he was only active for one game—New York's 30-10 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. 

However, he disputed Morton's claim Tuesday, noting the pseudo-redshirt year served a purpose. 

"I don’t think I'd say that," Hackenberg said, per Braziller. 

"I just think it's two totally different situations. It's a new year. I learned from last year. It helped me grow and put me in a situation I am in now. I feel good."

Hackenberg, who is currently third on the depth chart behind Josh McCown and Petty, completed 18 of 25 passes for 127 yards in the Jets' 7-3 preseason win over the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 12.  

He'll get another extended chance Saturday when the Jets travel to the Motor City for a meeting with the Detroit Lions.