Even a Christian Hackenberg hype piece doesn’t sound like a hype piece.
A New York Post column from Wednesday features a quote from Sheldon Richardson saying that the much maligned former second-round pick has a “cannon” for an arm. Unfortunately, that complement is wrapped in some fairly begrudging praise.
“Slowly progressing … still got a little ways to go. … He’s getting better every day … that’s pretty much it. Slowly progressing, man,” Richardson told the paper. “He still needs to get past the learning curve. It’s still too fast for him. But other than that, man, he’s still got a cannon. He’s firing it. When he’s on point, he’s on point, but when he’s not, he’s not, so got some growing still.”
This is the environment he must function in. As another Post writer, Brian Costello, put it this week: He joined a losing franchise with a fan base starved for a franchise quarterback and an unrelenting media spotlight. Had he landed somewhere like Seattle or Green Bay, he would have been allowed to develop without a microscope on him at all times.
Now, any incremental progress will be placed into perspective by passages like this, via ESPN.com from a two weeks ago: I talked to an opposing scout who studied him in pregame warmups for one game last season and was taken aback by how many off-target passes he threw.
To be clear, I’m not criticizing the media — this is honest, independent coverage. It wouldn’t be fair for the Jets to blame the media, either, as many head coaches often do amid a haze of negative coverage.
The challenge for coach Todd Bowles was always to lift the smog, something that Rex Ryan momentarily did by guiding the club to two straight AFC Championship games. But even after that success, the organization sank alongside a promising early career from Mark Sanchez. Unfortunately, much like it has in Cleveland, expectations have bottomed out before the next franchise quarterback even takes the field.