FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Christian Hackenberg isn’t interested in what his detractors have to say. Instead, the inexperienced yet self-assured quarterback is more focused on what he believes — and more importantly, what the Jets’ coaching staff thinks of him.
“That’s their opinions. I can’t really speak for them,” Hackenberg said of the naysayers after Tuesday’s OTA practice. “I know what I can do. And I know what my coaching staff feels I can do, so I’m just confident in my abilities and when I get my opportunity to play, I’m going to do that.”
Pressed to explain what that entails exactly, the second-year signal-caller replied: “I’m confident I can play at this level, I can play at a high level, and when I get my opportunity, take advantage of that.”
Though all three of the Jets’ quarterbacks — Josh McCown and Bryce Petty included — did not have impressive days on Tuesday, Hackenberg stressed that he’s far more comfortable now than he was at this time last year.
“I’m not going to say [it’s] night and day, but definitely just being able to go through it, it’s been really good,” said Hackenberg, a second-round pick in 2016. “I feel a lot better going in there, having a greater understanding of what’s going on, being able to have the time with Josh and the coaching staff . . . I’d say I feel a lot more comfortable than last year.”
Though last season was basically a redshirt year for him, Hackenberg said he’s grown in many ways and doesn’t look back at his time carrying a clipboard with regret
“I really can’t change it. You know what I mean?” he said. “It’s in the past, it is what it is.
“But I think if you’re a negative person you kind of think about it negatively and you say, ‘Dang, I wish I had a chance.’ I don’t want to fill my mind with that type of negativity. I’d rather focus on the positives of it and take what I learned from it and the good from it. That’s how I kind of look at last year.”
Hackenberg also said he’s OK with being labeled as a “gunslinger,” but acknowledged he wants his game to be about more than just throwing hard. “I own that,” he said of the label. “But I want to be able to frame the game and understand when you can take those risks and when you can’t.”