Making his first NFL start, Christian Hackenberg experienced a bumpy ride in the Motor City Saturday night. The Lions gave Hackenberg a rude welcome and the second-year passer wasn't able to get on track in the Jets' second summer contest.
"They really didn't give him a chance," head coach Todd Bowles said in his postgame press conference. "They had a lot of pressure on him and he couldn't get a couple balls off. I don't think anybody can have a chance when we're blocking like that."
On the third play from scrimmage, the Jets — starting Jonatthan Harrison, Brandon Shell and Ben Ijalana at C, RT and LT respectively — blew a protection and Hackenberg was blindsided by DE Cornelius Washington. He lost the ball, but the Jets recovered and the 6'4", 228-pounder was able to dust himself off and get back to the sideline.
"That was one of those looks," Hackenberg said. "It's one of those things that happens and you have to get up and move on from it. They got us. Even if we had thrown the hot I think they were even trapping that. Overall it was a good scheme by Detroit."
It appeared like Robby Anderson had a step on a Lions DB on the Jets' second possession, but Hackenberg overshot the speedster. The Jets went three-and-out on each of their three possessions in the opening stanza as Hackenberg had just two pass attempts and was sacked twice.
The Green & White didn't get a first down until early in the second quarter and that came courtesy of a 12-yard Hackenberg scramble. He followed that up with a short pass to RB Bilal Powell that resulted in a 17-yard gain and got the visitors to midfield. But on third down, Hackenberg got caught being indecisive and the ball slipped out of his hands and fell harmlessly to the ground.
The Jets totaled just 43 net yards in the first half and RB Bilal Powell, who had 11 touches, accounted for 46 himself. The unit had just two first downs and went 1-of-6 on third down. When the Jets offense returned to the field early in the third quarter, Hackenberg was on the sideline with a baseball cap on.
"It's not a fair evaluation of the kid," Bowles said. "He didn't get a chance on the couple pass plays he had. He had a lot of pressure on him."
In his 30 minutes, the second-year passer completed 2-of-6 for 14 yards. In a series that summed up Hackenberg's night, the Jets started his final possession at the 50. But infractions to starting guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters moved the team backwards and into a third and a mile situation.
From the time he first dropped back to throw until his final snap, Hackenberg never truly found himself in a good position. He didn't get much help and endured a tough night at the office.
"I thought it was a good learning experience," he said. "I think Detroit did a really good job watching the tape from last week. They did a really good job mixing up looks. A lot of credit to them. Overall, I thought it was a really good experience."