QBs DON’T EM­BAR­RASS THEM­SELVES

New York Post - - SPORTS - By BRIAN COSTELLO

Chris­tian Hack­en­berg may have be­come the first quar­ter­back in NFL his­tory to play a pre­sea­son game while wear­ing hand­cuffs on Satur­day night.

At least that’s what it felt like.

The sec­ond-year Jets quar­ter­back got plenty of play­ing time, en­ter­ing af­ter one se­ries in the first quar­ter and play­ing deep into the third, but the of­fense was so con­ser­va­tive it felt like Steve Ban­non was the new Jets of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, not John Morton.

Hack­en­berg com­pleted 18 of 25 passes for 127 yards, av­er­ag­ing a measly 5.1 yards per at­tempt, in a 7-3 Jets win over the Ti­tans. It was the pre­sea­son opener for both teams, and it was as ugly as you would ex­pect a game in early Au­gust to be.

For Hack­en­berg, there were plenty of pos­i­tives. He did not throw an in­ter­cep­tion, looked more cer­tain on the field than he has, and he did not hold onto the ball too long — some­thing that has plagued him in prac­tice.

Still, it was hard to walk away wowed by the player the Jets took 51st over­all in 2016 out of Penn State be­cause most of his throws were short, safe passes. He only aired it out down­field once, and his long­est com­ple­tion was 14 yards. That may have been partly Hack­en­berg’s choice, but it felt like the coaches lim­ited the game plan to help Hack­en­berg’s con­fi­dence, and be­cause they don’t trust him to run the full of­fense. He also fum­bled a snap in the third quar­ter that was lost to the Ti­tans on what looked like a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion with cen­ter Jonot­than Har­ri­son.

“He’s got some things to build off,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He’s got some pos­i­tives that we can look at and he can build from. He’s got some neg­a­tives we’ve got to cor­rect. It’s to be ex­pected in the first game.”

Hack­en­berg com­pleted his first five passes. He played eight se­ries, scor­ing on none of them. They ended in six punts, a missed field goal and the fum­ble.

“It felt good to play again,” Hack­en­berg said. “There’s some things we have to clean up, but I think over­all we did a pretty good job.”

Hack­en­berg en­tered the game on the Jets’ sec­ond pos­ses­sion of the night. On the first, Josh McCown moved the Jets 78 yards in eight plays. He found Robby An­der­son on a 53-yard deep pass where An­der­son beat Lo­gan Ryan, the Ti­tans’ big free-agent sign­ing at cor­ner­back. Three plays later, McCown hit Charone Peake for a 4-yard touch­down and a 7-0 Jets lead.

“That was the goal for us com­ing in when we talked about how we were go­ing to do the reps and ev­ery­thing,” McCown said. “It was just let’s go down and put to­gether a good drive and score and then let the young guys take over.”

McCown went 3-for-4 for 72 yards and the touch­down be­fore call­ing it a night. Bryce Petty got mop-up duty, play­ing one se­ries in the third quar­ter and the en­tire fourth. Petty com­pleted two of six passes for 16 yards.

The Jets’ start­ing de­fense looked dom­i­nant against the Mar­cus Mar­i­ota-led Ti­tans. When it was first team vs. first team — the Jets lim­ited the Ti­tans to 28 yards on two se­ries. Leonard Wil­liams sacked Mar­i­ota, and the Jets held Ten­nesee to a three-and-out on their sec­ond se­ries.

The Jets now get an­other week of train­ing camp be­fore head­ing to Detroit for their sec­ond pre­sea­son game. McCown fig­ures to see more time in that game, but all eyes will again be on Hack­en­berg.

Bowles has not put any type of time frame on de­cid­ing who his start­ing quar­ter­back will be for Week 1 in Buf­falo on Sept. 10, but it is rea­son­able to ex­pect a de­ci­sion af­ter the third pre­sea­son game with the Gi­ants in two weeks.

The much-dis­cussed Jets wide re­ceiv­ing corps did OK on Satur­day night. An­der­son had the big grab from McCown, show­ing his speed on the 53-yard play as he ran right past Ryan. An­der­son caught three passes for 71 yards.

There were sev­eral drops in the game by wide­outs Jalin Mar­shall and Myles White and from full­backs Ju­lian Howsare and An­thony Firkser.

The Jets forced two turnovers in the sec­ond half. Safety Ron­ald Martin in­ter­cepted an Alex Tan­ney pass. Then An­thony John­son sacked Tan­ney and forced a fum­ble that Josh Martin re­cov­ered. The Jets’ de­fense had eight sacks in the game.

Getty Images; USA TO­DAY Sports

YOUNG GUN: Chris­tian Hack­en­berg throws one of his 25 at­tempts on the day, go­ing 18-for-25 for 127 yards, but the sec­ond-year quar­ter­back was un­able to con­nect on a big play, leav­ing the Jets score­less while he was in the game.

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