The Jets may have gotten it right with Christian Hackenberg — by finally cutting him.
The quarterback’s first regular-season action as a pro didn’t start or end well. He’s still looking for his first points. The former Jets draft bust threw a first-quarter interception and his Memphis Express team was shutout 26-0 by the Birmingham Iron in his Alliance of American Football debut Sunday in Birmingham, Ala.
“We took it personally that we couldn’t put points on the board,” Hackenberg told the team’s official website.
Hackenberg, the Jets’ second-round pick in 2016, completed 10-of-23 passes for 87 yards and was replaced by former Troy standout Brandon Silvers in the game’s final four minutes. Silvers also threw an interception.
Hackenberg was cut by the Jets in May having never played a down in the regular season. He is trying to resurrect his career after failing to stick with the Eagles, Raiders and Bengals last preseason.
His most bizarre moment Sunday came on a third-and-11 play with about 8:00 left in the first quarter. Hackenberg was tripped up running back to the line of scrimmage, but proceed to get up and dive again — as if trying to get a first down.
Hackenberg did complete his first pass — for 10 yards to Brandon Barnes, but was later picked off by Jamar Summers on a short pass to the left side at the Memphis 46 with 2:03 to play in the first quarter. The former Penn State star completed just 3-of-11 passes for 20 yards before halftime, but improved after a break.
“We played hard, but we did not play complementary football,” Express coach Mike Singletary told the site.
An illegal formation penalty negated a 39-yard touchdown pass to Kayaune Ross out of wildcat formation with 12:54 to play in the game and Memphis’ drive ultimately stalled. The Express did get into field-goal range with 6:02 remaining in the third quarter, but Josh Jasper missed from 46 yards. Hackenberg’s counterpart, Luis Perez out of Division II Texas A&M-Commerce, threw for 252 yards.
Hackenberg raved about how well he was throwing coming into the opener after adjustments were made to his motion. It didn’t translate on the field — at least for one game.
“I don’t think I’ve thrown the football this good ever,” Hackenberg 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.”