He’s been Hacked. For good this time.
The roller-coaster-that-only-seems-to-point-down career of Christian Hackenberg is getting the slightest bit of hope and a dash of hype before he debuts in the Alliance of American Football, with his Memphis Express beginning their season with the league’s inauguration Sunday.
The historic Jets bust — a second-round pick who never took a snap in the regular season in his 2016 and ’17 seasons before getting traded to Oakland — believes he has identified and fixed the problem. Working with former Jets quarterback coach David Lee, Hackenberg has allegedly solved the windup issue he said he now believes kept him from ever appearing in an NFL game.
“I don’t think I’ve thrown the football this good ever,” the once Penn State star told PennLive. “Like, I wish I had this five years ago. But the good news is I’m 23, I’m sure I can do it and I did it. Now it’s just about going out and playing.”
The problem, according to Lee, has been Hackenberg’s motion. It was too heavy a windup, with Hackenberg reaching far back to generate power on his throws, which both apparently hindered accuracy and took too much time.
“Christian had an elongated backward release and he flipped the ball out,” Lee said in the PennLive video. “Seriously, 30 percent of the time — it’s nothing wrong mentally — it’s just a mechanical flaw. When he tried to get it back here, he’d try to get it in the release position and he’d lose it.”
Lee explained he put a contraption far back that Hackenberg would hit when he attempted his full windup. Thousands of throws later, the quarterback who also couldn’t stick with the Raiders, Eagles or Bengals believes he has a new life and throw.
“I think he’s fixed,” Lee said. “But we’ll see.”
Hackenberg has identified his throwing motion as problematic before, though, and it did nothing to keep him in the NFL. After working out with Lee confidant Jeff Christensen last offseason, Hackenberg blamed a lack of Jets feedback for stunting his development.
“I think there were some times where I threw it really good throughout my first two years here,” Hackenberg said last May. “That was the frustrating part for me, the ups and downs and not knowing why, if that makes sense and not really getting any information from anybody on how to fix that, how to address it.”
He was cut shortly after then washed out of three other NFL chances before getting his AAF gig.