FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Christian Hackenberg’s day started with no team reps during the first day of Organized Team Activities, leaving him frustrated with the Jets.
Hackenberg aired his grievances Tuesday afternoon, telling reporters how the coaching staff didn’t believe he could change his throwing motion quickly enough to be successful in the NFL.
Later in the day, the Jets traded Hackenberg, their 2016 second-round pick from Penn State, to the Raiders for a 2019 conditional seventh-round selection. Hackenberg never played in a regular-season game and was active for only five.
“Some players it takes a while to get going, some go to Canada, some go to different teams, some do different types of stuff,” Todd Bowles said. “We did everything we could to try to help him the best we could, and sometimes it works out somewhere else.”
The Jets saw potential in Hackenberg when they drafted him, but he was active for only one game in 2016. He and Bryce Petty were given more snaps last season in training camp practices and preseason games in auditions for the starting job. Josh McCown became the No. 1, Petty was named the backup and Hackenberg waited. He was active for only four games in 2017, including the last three, when McCown was out with a broken hand. Hackenberg was given first-team snaps in practices, but Petty started the last three games.
It would seem the Jets wasted a pick on Hackenberg.
“Anytime a pick doesn’t play, I guess you can look at it as a waste,” Bowles said. “When a pick doesn’t work out, it’s not a waste, you learn lessons from everything you do in life. It’s not just football and draft picks. Anybody who knows it’s going to work out every time, please let me know that person, because it didn’t work out here.”
When last season ended, Hackenberg wanted to change his throwing motion and went to then-quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who didn’t think a change could be done successfully by the time offseason workouts started. Hackenberg said he went to former Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee for help and he was directed to quarterback guru Jeff Christensen. Hackenberg said he worked on shortening his motion to get rid of the ball more quickly and improve his footwork.
“I think there were some times where I threw it really good my first two years here,” Hackenberg said. “So that was the frustrating part for me is the ups and downs and not knowing why and not really getting any information from anybody on how to fix that and how to address it.”
During the rookie minicamp in early May, Bowles said Hackenberg hadn’t told him about wanting to change his throwing motion. Hackenberg disputed that statement.
“They knew about it going all the way back to January,” Hackenberg said. “That was a conversation [from] top to bottom, so everyone knew about it. We were all on the same page. We’re all moving in the same direction.”
So now Hackenberg moves to Oakland, leaving the Jets with three quarterbacks, including No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold. Hackenberg thought he had a future with the Jets, but the moment Darnold was drafted, it was only a matter of time before something happened.
“You try not to misevaluate anybody, but anytime you draft somebody and it doesn’t work out, you call it a misevaluation,” Bowles said. “You can call it a miss, you can call it a coach’s fault, a player’s fault, management’s fault, it’s a collective agreement as an organization. Sometimes things don’t work out. You’re not going to bat 1,000 in this league.”