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Jets' cuts raise questions about near future at QB

After deciding to move on from two of their best veteran players Tuesday, the New York Jets received this grim assessment from an executive of another team:

Multiple Jets beat reporters are outright accusing the franchise of losing games on purpose -- something general manager Mike Maccagnan did not offer a convincing denial of on Tuesday when speaking to the media.

"That's not something we're focused on," Maccagnan said, via the New York Post. "We're focused on making decisions to help this team going forward. ... That's not our focus."

While going young is something teams are often praised for -- Cleveland is in the middle of a similar rebuild -- the Jets cut valued veterans in June after a practice. They also seem to be abandoning the Christian Hackenberg experiment altogether -- or at least plan to put him and their other quarterbacks in a brutal rock-in-a-hard-place scenario.

The inevitable chorus that followed Tuesday's moves was to wonder why the team wouldn't just start Hackenberg all season long if they were going to lose anyway. But imagine: A player deemed so unready to play last year that he was completely redshirted during a lost season now going out to perform with a roster far worse than the one that couldn't support him a few months ago. Is the chance of selecting one of the three big-name quarterbacks who may or may not declare for the draft in 2018 worth it?

The club's No. 1 receiver, Eric Decker, is now gone. Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson are the team's starting wide receivers with the suspended Jalin Marshall the next-best option on the bench. A recovering Austin Seferian-Jenkins could start at tight end with Kelvin Beachum at left tackle and Brent Qvale on the right side.

This would torch Hackenberg's career, even if he's confident in himself.

"I know what I can do and I know what my coaching staff feels that I can do," he told Tuesday night. "I'm just confident in my abilities, and when I get my opportunities I'll do that. I'm confident that I can play at this level and play at a high level. When I get my opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it."

Maybe everyone weighing in now is just being short-sighted. The Jets have been accused of thinking small for years and now it's time to broaden the scope and build something competitive three or four years from now. But in the meantime, how many careers will this rebuild bring down with it? How does a 37-year-old, oft-injured Josh McCown feel about toiling in this offense? Is this a place where Hackenberg wants to develop? Can he?

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