Philadelphia P.A. - If you could not already tell, Christian Hackenberg has some time before he can be crowned savior. He is not the franchise quarterback, yet. After a promising performance against the Giants in week three of the preseason, Hackenberg was a dismal 11-for-31 for just 54 yards and one interception as the Jets lost to the Eagles in the final game of the preseason, 14-6.
"It's a day-by-day process. I'm learning what I can every day - the good, the bad, the ugly," said Hackenberg following the game. "It's a great learning experience."
The game started with Bryce Petty as New York's starting signal caller. Petty went 4-of-6 for 87 yards, throwing one touchdown in three drives before he left the game with a shoulder injury. He went down hard on a hit from Eagles defensive end Bryan Braman. On the play, Petty displayed poise in the pocket throwing a perfect ball to Robby Anderson for a 44-yard score.
After the game, head coach Todd Bowles said: "[Petty] has a sore right shoulder. He'll undergo more tests tomorrow." X-Rays were negative.
One of the major storylines entering this game involved the quarterbacks since Todd Bowles and the coaching staff has insisted on keeping four on the roster during the regular season. They had plenty of decisions to make if both Petty and Hackenberg impressed in the finale. That was not the case as Petty was not on the field long enough and Hackenberg displayed plenty of growing pains. But, if Petty is hurt badly, the Jets may be able to put him on the injured reserve, keeping three quarterbacks on the active roster while using the extra roster spot on a different position that may need depth.
Hackenberg - on the other hand - struggled heavily. For the majority of his time on the field, New York remained conservative with their play calling, stretching the field only a handful of times. Hackenberg attempted many safe passes to Wes Saxton, Khiry Robinson, and Antone Smith but was burned in the redzone when the rookie quarterback refused to take a sack and threw a low pass that was intercepted and taken back 90 yards for a score by Ed Reynolds.
"You can't turn it over in the redzone, no matter who you are playing," said Bowles. "It's a lot of mistakes on the field that we'll have to clean up."
Nonetheless, the fourth preseason game was a chance for players on the roster bubble to showcase their worth. Robby Anderson got the memo as he finished the evening with two catches for 61 yards and one touchdown. Anderson finished the preseason with 13 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns, making Todd Bowles' decisions that much tougher.
"There are about 5 or 6 spots left [to decide on the 53-man roster]," said Bowles. "We'll meet on it tomorrow and make our decisions to make sure we have the right guys."
Khiry Robinson can be one of those candidates for a spot that Bowles has alluded to. He showed energy and had some big gains during his Jets debut but finished his evening with 13 carries for just 25 yards.
"He was quick and it was good to see him get some touches and banged around a little bit," Bowles said about his running back.
While the Jets defense allowed 205 passing yards - Chase Daniel finished 14-for-22 with 131 yards and two interceptions and McLeod Bethel-Thompson was 13-for-16 with 82 yards - the unit forced five turnovers. Taiwan Jones was seen all over the field, making eight tackles and catching one interception. Ronald Martin and Doug Middleton also stood out on defense for the Jets; Martin had six tackles and a forced fumble while Middleton compiled five of his own.
With the good, comes the bad. The Jets finished the game 2-for-16 on third down. New York struggled to get into any offensive rhythm the entire evening, forcing Australian punter Lachlan Edwards to showcase his booming leg 12 times. He averaged 37 yards per punt with his longest being a 60-yard kick. Edwards did make one mistake, punting to Eagles returner Paul Turner who returned one to the endzone for 71 yards. That proved to be the dagger the Jets could never recover from as Philadelphia led 14-6.
On Thursday, the Jets seemed tired of the preseason with their minds focused on Cincinnati for week one. While Hackenberg and the offense had an ugly performance, it is too early in his career to label him a draft bust.
Bryce Petty went to the locker room after throwing the touchdown in the first quarter. His arm was in a sling after the game. X-Rays were negative but will go for an MRI on Friday.
Brandon Marshall's hip is fine. "All is OK" - Todd Bowles.
Joe Barone is a staff writer with JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)null