Christian Hackenberg is starting to feel ill. The symptoms are largely unknown, the ailment a mystery, but he just doesn’t feel like himself. He’s banged up. His body aches.
It might take, oh, 17 weeks to heal.
For all the chatter about the merits of carrying four quarterbacks on the Jets roster, the smartest choice is clear: Place Hackenberg on season-ending injured reserve after the final preseason game in Philly next week.
Apparently it’s blasphemy to keep four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster (even though it’s not that big of a deal), so here’s a tactic to use three roster spots on Ryan Fitzpatrick (hero), Geno Smith (villain), Bryce Petty (curiosity) and the rookie.
Ryan Fitzpatrick relates to Jets backup QB Christian Hackenberg
Wait. Can they do that even if Hackenberg isn’t really hurt?
History suggests that it won’t be a problem. The Patriots have turned stashing players on I.R. into a cottage industry under Bill Belichick. It’s the NFL’s version of a redshirt year.
The number of developmental guys who catch the so-called Foxborough Flu this time of year is uncanny. With so many outbreaks, it’s a wonder that there isn’t a vaccine yet.
The Patriots signed former Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps shortly after the London Games four years ago before placing him on season-ending IR. It’s amazing how quickly this world-class athlete got “hurt” after joining the Evil Empire.
Jets’ Christian Hackenberg not making most of opportunities
Belichick is like BASF. He didn’t make the loophole. He just made the loophole better.
League rules on the matter are explicit, but are they ever actually enforced?
According to the bylaws, “With the exception of players who have been “Designated for Return,” players on Reserve/Injured are prohibited from practicing. They are limited to rehabilitative work under the direction of the club’s physician or trainer. Such players may attend team meetings and observe practice, but they may not participate in any manner or form in any practice session, any drill, or any physical activity other than that required as part of their rehabilitation.”
Consider Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman, who missed his rookie season after tearing his ACL in minicamp last year. The team’s in-house reporter wrote a story this summer on the Broncos’ official website about Heuerman’s comeback, which included “occasionally” catching passes in December from Peyton Manning, who was working his way back from a foot injury. The story even quoted Heuerman on the benefits of working with Manning.
Jets Insider: Bowles not concerned with Hackenberg’s accuracy yet
Was that a violation of the league’s policy for I.R.ed players? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. The league evidently didn’t care.
The league can request a player’s medical files for review if there are questions about the veracity of the injury and send the player to an independent physician for examination, but who are we kidding? That rarely, if ever, happens. For the most part, it turns a blind eye to it.
In 1997, the Eagles asked sixth-round rookie quarterback Koy Detmer to fake a knee injury in practice late in the preseason, so they could stash him on I.R. Detmer pretended to aggravate a two-year-old knee injury suffered in college. He was carted off the practice field.
“Practice ends and I go into the training room,” his brother, Ty Detmer, a teammate at the time, once said, “There he is laying on the training room table with a towel over his face and I just kind of raised the corner up and peeked and he’s got this big old grin on his face. You know like, ‘How was that for my acting job?’ ” I had to get out of there because I was about to just die laughing. And the rest of the team, you can’t say anything because nobody is supposed to know.”
Why Jets QB Christian Hackenberg has been sacked by NFL analytics
Would the Jets consider this tactic for Hackenberg? The powers that be have an interesting link to a team that was notorious for circumventing the rule a generation ago.
Washington took quarterback Mark Rypien in the sixth round of the 1986 draft only to stash him on injured reserve for his first two seasons with knee and back injuries. Rypien, of course, ultimately turned into a Super Bowl MVP a few years later. Washington placed sixth-round rookie quarterback Stan Humphries on I.R. with a mysterious blood disorder in 1988.
Charley Casserly, de facto mentor to Mike Maccagnan and the consultant who led the Jets GM and head coaching search in 2015, was Washington’s assistant general manager at the time.
The team’s starting safety? Todd Bowles.
Jets have ‘high hopes’ for Christian Hackenberg
It didn’t stop there for Washington. When Casserly became the GM in 1990, he stashed fourth-round rookie quarterback Cary Conklin on I.R. Maccagnan got his first job in the NFL as a scouting intern for Washington that year. Conklin played the fourth quarter of the final preseason game in 1991 without incident before magically landing on I.R. again with a knee injury. Maybe he tripped over a cackling Casserly on the floor of the locker room.
Casserly followed the same blueprint in 1992 by placing fourth-round rookie quarterback Chris Hakel on I.R. Washington had the worst luck.
The Jets should hope for such misfortune.
It’s clear that Hackenberg, the only one of the 15 drafted quarterbacks not to take a single snap in the first two weeks of the preseason, needs much more time to develop.
Jets hoping Hackenberg can build off freshman year at Penn State
There’s minimal downside to keeping four QBs on the 53-man roster — the developmental ninth offensive linemen or seventh linebacker that would take his spot would be inactive on gamedays anyway — but there is a creative and easy way to save a roster spot.
Let’s get real. What would Hackenberg actually do at practice as the No. 4 quarterback during the season? Fitzpatrick would get the lion’s share of work. Smith would get the bulk of scout-team reps. Petty would pick up scout-team scraps. Hackenberg would do very little.
Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey hinted a few weeks ago that the real work on fixing Hackenberg’s mechanics won’t begin until after this season. The brain trust is fully aware that it needs to re-boot Hackenberg, who regressed in his final two seasons in college for myriad reasons.
“You let him do what got him here, and then you take a full offseason if you think there needs to be some changes,” Gailey said.”
Follow the Daily News Sports on Facebook. “Like” us here.
In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to get instruction inside the team facility. Hackenberg can learn in the classroom and on the sidelines on Sundays, while still getting his full rookie salary. He can put in valuable time in the team’s Virtual Reality room. He could even “occasionally” throw to receivers (see: Heuerman).
So, which body part should Maccagnan & Co. list on the official injury report? Considering that Hackenberg was sacked 82 times in his last two years in college, any limb would be believable. Take your pick. Arm. Shoulder. Foot. Back.
Don’t be surprised if Hackenberg begins to feel sick. There’s a bug going around in Florham Park.
- new york jets
- christian hackenberg
Send a Letter to the Editor
- Join the Conversation: