Mike Maccagnan’s job comes with the kind of Monday morning quarterbacking from armchair general managers convinced that assembling a championship roster is as easy as winning their fantasy football leagues.
It’s not that simple, but second-guessing comes with the gig, so you have to wonder whether the Jets GM’s decision to draft a developmental quarterback in the second round six months ago was wise for a win-now team with an aging core.
Christian Hackenberg might turn out to be a terrific player, but did Maccagnan put his head coach at a disadvantage by not selecting a player who could contribute in the here and now?
The Jets ship is taking on water at a rapid rate thanks to breakdowns from a roster that needs as much personnel help as it can get.
Six of the Jets’ seven-man 2016 draft class were active last week against the Steelers. The lone guy on the sideline: Hackenberg.
“I don’t think it’s a disadvantage,” Todd Bowles told the Daily News about not getting any contribution from his second-round pick this season. “Because we took a quarterback…. I don’t think one guy makes a difference. Because we have enough guys that can contribute for us to win ball games.”
Bowles’ talented players, however, aren’t playing particularly well. His subpar players have been horrific. The combination has produced an ugliness that has the Jets on the verge of irrelevance.
Premium draft picks (first three rounds) are gold. Although it’s unfair to call Hackenberg, the 51st overall selection, anything other than an unknown, he’s not helping a team in dire need of help right now.
“Second-round picks today and second-round picks when I played are completely different,” Bowles said. “First-round picks are different….They’re valuable, but they were four-year college players or redshirt five-year college players back then. They’re one- or two-year players now. So the mental capacity (is different). But everybody gets them. You just have to teach them. They are valuable, but some take more time than others.”
“Draft picks aren’t guaranteed 100%,” Bowles added. “You try to do the best homework you can and give the best evaluation you can… and you go from there. He takes a redshirt year. It doesn’t hurt us to (not) have a second-round pick, because we have enough people to play where we need to play them at.”
Bowles has seen this movie before. Remember, he has gotten little production out of last year’s second-round pick Devin Smith.
Hackenberg has taken the right approach in his development, absorbing anything from everyone. He’s picked Ryan Fitzpatrick’s brain, jumped into the film room with Brandon Marshall and tried to extract valuable pieces of information every day.
Jets rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg
“Maximizing the most of the opportunity in the here and now is what I think I really have to do for the end goal,” Hackenberg told The News. “Every opportunity I have to get better and be as prepared as I can for opportunities when they’re presented to me. I don’t want to go there unprepared.”
“I think you can take a year like this two ways,” Hackenberg continued. “You can put your head down and say, ‘Oh I’m not playing,’ and kind of bury your head in the sand. Or you can say, ‘Alright, this could be a good thing if you go out and maximize the opportunities and the resources around you.’ So I’m trying to choose that path as much as I can.”
The success of rookie quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott has prompted some to wonder if Hackenberg will ever be able to do the same for the Jets one day.
“I’m really happy for what they’re doing,” said Hackenberg, who befriended Prescott at the Manning Passing camp years ago. “I think it’s good for the league. Everyone else that hasn’t quite had their shot yet, I think they’re itching to get it.”
“If you look at it, there’s so many different journeys,” Hackenberg continued. “Even the older guys in the league right now. People have gotten to the same spot being a starter for a team in so many different ways. There’s no blueprint to coming in and being the starter and lighting it up. You don’t have to do that. You can sit. You can not play so well, get traded and then light it up. There’s so many different examples of people who are successful and they’ve done it in so many different ways.”
It’s certainly not Hackenberg’s fault — the Jets have to undo some of the damage done by his college coaches — but Bowles sure could have used a starter or significant contributor from his second-round pick this year.
Second-rounders picked around Hackenberg like Saints WR Michael Thomas (No. 47), Bears OL Cody Whitehair (No. 56), Colts DB T.J. Green (No. 57), Steelers DB Sean Davis (No. 58) and Saints safety Vonn Bell (No. 61) have made immediate contributions.
Bowles’ mantra is simple: Try to win with the pieces you have until you get the pieces you want.
“I have a lot of pieces that I want,” Bowles said. “I’m fine with our personnel. We didn’t gel as quickly. We just have to eliminate the mistakes That’s the bottom line. Our pieces are fine.”
It sure would have helped to get something out of his second-round pick though.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News