Christian Hackenberg growing, learning, preparing to get cut

Christian Hackenberg growing, learning, preparing to get cut

Christian Hackenberg is smart enough to understand the reality.

He's the fifth quarterback. Nobody keeps five quarterbacks. Nobody keeps four quarterbacks. A lot of teams don't even keep three.

He also understands a bigger reality. He's in a place where he can become a better quarterback every day.

And that's the reality he's choosing to focus on.

"At the end of the day, you only have control over what you have control over," Hackenberg said before practice Sunday.

"There's a lot of variables and a lot of speculation that goes on and I think the more narrow-minded you can be and kind of just focus on the day-to-day and the process, the better off you are.

"Things like picking up the offense as fast as you can, pushing yourself, kind of getting lost in those things, and being able to separate yourself (from worrying), and at the end of the day, some things work out, some things don't.

"I just have to do everything I can with the resources that have been provided to me to make sure that whatever gauge or time or whatever there is that's going to go into the evaluation process that puts me in the best position to be able to grow. Because that's the end-game.

"Getting better and continuing to take baby steps. I'm still young and those things for me are big. That's the coolest part for me. Really enjoying it and staying day-to-day, hour-to-hour."

The Eagles signed Hackenberg, the Jets' 2016 second-round pick, last weekend and have begun the process of teaching him the offense and working on his mechanics.

It's really a pretty cool thing. Both sides understand there isn't a roster spot for Hackenberg. Both sides understand, barring several very unlikely developments, he'll be released on Sept. 1.

But both sides simply value the process of a young quarterback getting better. Doug Pederson loves working with young quarterbacks, and Hackenberg is a willing student.

And that's where everybody's focus is.

"Just feels good to kind of get back in the swing of things," said Hackenberg, who had been out of football after being released by the Raiders in June.

"It's kind of hard to gauge things coming in so late, but just making sure I'm taking advantage of every opportunity I get. Studying extra, making sure I catch up as best I can and then taking advantage of some of the resources in the building.

"There's a lot here. They do a great job with providing you everything from strength and condition to nutrition, all that stuff. Just trying to get myself in the best position so when those opportunities do come I can go out and do what I've got to do.

"But it's been great. I love the environment, I love the building. Really excited for the opportunity and just trying to take full advantage of it."

We watched Hackenberg throwing before the Patriots preseason game, and his arm jumps out at you. He's got a rocket.

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he sure looks the part.

If the Eagles trade a quarterback, which isn't out of the question, there's a chance Hackenberg could wind up as No. 3.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Right now, he's just enjoying some relative anonymity after two years of drama in New York.

"I've [gotten better at] having to compartmentalize outside pressure and all these things that are getting put on you," he said. "So when you have time when you're not in the league or not with a team ... you can sit or mope about it [or] just put in the work."

Hackenberg won't play Thursday night against the Browns, but with Wentz and Foles not playing in the preseason finale a week from Thursday, we should get our first look at Hackenberg.

Opponent? The Jets.

"It's not my decision, but I'm definitely putting in the time that I can," he said. "Staying late, coming in early.

"It's a great room, great quarterbacks coach (Press Taylor), Carson's awesome, ton of respect for him, Nick's great, Nate's great, Joe (Callahan) has been awesome.

"Those guys have done a great job accepting me and bringing me in and pushing me and giving me a lot of good stuff to work on and chew on. It's been great."

Hackenberg sounds happier than he's been in a long time. Even though he knows it'll all probably end in 12 days.

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Eagle Eye Podcast: What to expect from Andy Weidl?

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagle Eye Podcast: What to expect from Andy Weidl?

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro discuss what Eagles' fans should expect from Andy Weidl taking over for Joe Douglas.

The guys break down their 53-man roster projection.

Also, Dave's international vacation plan.

1:30 - How does Andy Weidl fill Joe Douglas' void?
5:30 - Jeff Lurie's vision.
13:00 - Eagles' stability as a franchise has been a separator.
19:30 - Impact of Joe Douglas taking the Jets job.
29:00 - 53-man roster projection.

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

The franchise quarterback returns, while a Philadelphia legend departs. Will the Eagles be better or worse under center in 2019?

Key addition: Clayton Thorson (draft, fifth round) 
Key departure: Nick Foles (free agent, Jaguars)

Why they could be better: Carson Wentz is finally healthy

Wentz’s struggles in 2018 – as much as a 69.6 completion percentage, 7.7 yards per pass attempt and 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio can be described as struggling – were easy to see coming. He was a third-year quarterback only nine months removed from a torn ACL and spent the majority of the offseason rehabbing rather than working on his timing in the offense and building a rapport with receivers. No doubt he was putting unrealistic pressure on himself, too.

The injury is finally behind Wentz though, as is the broken back bone that shelved him in December. He’s entering his fourth season, so his comfort level in the offense should be nearing its peak, and he has all spring and summer to get on the same page with his numerous weapons. With his health and contract situations resolved, all Wentz needs to worry about now is playing football – which, as you might recall, he’s pretty good at.

Why they could be worse: Unproven backup

The Eagles really like Nate Sudfeld. They promoted him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster during the 2017 season to prevent another team from signing him. They let him serve as the backup quarterback in the Super Bowl. And they tendered him at a second-round level as a restricted free agent this offseason, effectively ensuring his return while paying him over $3 million.

This will be Sudfeld’s third year in the system, so he should know what he’s doing at least. Yet, the fact is he’s attempted just 25 passes in the NFL. There’s simply no telling how good he is. It’s nothing like bringing Nick Foles off the bench. He had won 24 games, threw 66 touchdown passes and went to a Pro Bowl before adding Super Bowl MVP to his resume. Sudfeld has talent and familiarity with the offense, plus a quality supporting cast. He probably wouldn’t be a disaster, but could he save the Eagles’ season if called upon? Impossible to say.

The X-factor: Can Wentz stay healthy for 16-plus games?

People are quick to throw around the injury prone label, often unfairly, but Wentz has been seriously hurt in each of his last four seasons going back to college. He broke a bone in his throwing wrist at North Dakota State, suffered a hairline rib fracture in preseason during his rookie year (though he played all 16 regular season games), then had the ACL and the back. Injury prone or not, that’s an alarming trend.

These are unrelated injuries, so it’s possible Wentz has been unlucky. It’s also very likely the Eagles’ fortunes this season are hinging on this hope. Wentz could help himself by getting rid of the ball quicker on occasion or giving up on a few more plays. Then again, he’s the quarterback. He’s going to get hit sometimes. All anybody can do is wait and see if he keeps getting up.

Are the Eagles’ quarterbacks better or worse?

The overall talent in the room undeniably dips with Foles’ departure. Yet, ideally, Wentz is the only signal caller taking meaningful snaps for the Eagles, and he should take another step forward in 2019 provided he can stay on the field. This is a matter of perspective, but to me, having an MVP-caliber quarterback at 100 percent is far more important than the guys sitting on the bench. 


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