Given a terrific chance to state his case, Christian Hackenberg -- in a surprise start -- failed to generate any semblance of offense in the Jets' 16-6 loss to the Detroit Lions on Saturday night at Ford Field. In five possessions, the Hackenberg-led Jets crossed midfield only once (barely) and looked utterly lifeless.
This was a great learning experience for Hackenberg, who faced a starting defense, but it has become clear he's not ready to be the starting quarterback. In 13 possessions over two games, he has generated zero points. This week, he couldn't get away with his dinking and dunking. The Lions played tight coverage and pressured Hackenberg, who completed only 2 of 6 passes for 14 yards.
Like it or not, McCown -- who got the night off -- gives the Jets (1-1) the best chance to win. Assuming the goal still is to win games, coach Todd Bowles should give McCown two-plus quarters next week against the New York Giants and name him the opening-day starter. It's time to get serious.
QB depth chart: Bryce Petty played the entire second half, and he looked better than Hackenberg. Playing against the Lions' backups, Petty (15-for-24, 160 yards) led the only two scoring drives and was able to push the ball downfield. He threw an interception, but it was a desperation throw in the final seconds. If there was any doubt about Petty's roster spot, it should be gone now. He did reasonably well for a guy who hasn't had many practice reps.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Jets looked ...: Overmatched -- and that's being kind. The starting offense, which played the entire first half, managed only two first downs and 43 total yards. Running back Bilal Powell, in his preseason debut, got the ball on every play except one -- nine rushes, two catches. The defense allowed two long scoring drives, struggling with short passes. The Jets kept it vanilla from a scheme standpoint, which might have been a factor.
One reason to be concerned: The starting offensive line struggled in the running game for the second week in a row, and it allowed pressure at times on Hackenberg. Maybe you can blame some of it on a lack of continuity, as they rotated at three positions -- left tackle (Kelvin Beachum and Ben Ijalana), right tackle (Brandon Shell and Brent Qvale) and center (Wesley Johnson and Jonotthan Harrison). OK, enough experimenting, it's time to settle on a starting line.
Rookie watch: Safety Jamal Adams has to clean up a couple of things in his game, especially his tackling technique. He missed an open-field tackle because he left his feet too soon. On another play, he was late picking up a receiver out of the flat. Hype notwithstanding, Adams isn't superhuman; he's experiencing growing pains like every other rookie. Wide receiver ArDarius Stewart made two catches in the second half.
Secondary struggles: This looked like a replay of last season, except we can't blame it on Darrelle Revis. The Jets got picked apart by Matthew Stafford (understandable) and Jake Rudock (what?!). There were mistakes galore. Morris Claiborne allowed a few completions and used poor technique on a fade route, resulting in a 5-yard touchdown catch by Marvin Jones. Juston Burris dropped a would-be interception and missed a tackle. Cornerback will be an issue this season, count on it.
Life after Lucky: Will the Jets ever find quality punt and kickoff returners? Without Lucky Whitehead (broken foot), they turned to Frankie Hammond and Marcus Murphy. Let's see: Hammond muffed a punt and Murphy lost a fumble on a kickoff (he got bailed out by a Detroit penalty). General manager Mike Maccagnan needs to address this, pronto.
That guy could start: Cornerback Dexter McDougle won't crack the starting lineup, but he was one of the few bright spots and could push for playing time in sub packages.