The move many fans of the Alliance of American Football had waited to see finally came in Week 3. After 2.5 games of mediocre/below average showings from Memphis Express quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the team opted to make a change. The decision came at halftime of the matchup against the Orlando Apollos when they trailed 9-0.
By replacing Hackenberg, the team gave the keys to the offense over to another former NFL quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, who had been patiently waiting in the wings.
Almost immediately after the change was made, Mettenberger threw a touchdown to cap off a 75-yard drive on an impressive strike early in the third quarter.
Through the first half of action, Hackenberg had completed just 8-of-14 passes for 88 yards and two interceptions. This continued to a brutal opening stretch of the quarterback’s AAF career, and based on how things began once Mettenberger took over, it seems unlikely the former New York Jet will see the field anytime soon.
Christian Hackenberg’s Rough Start to AAF Tenure
The ex-Penn State Nittany Lion was named the starter prior to the season, but through two games completed just 51.6 percent of his passes for 277 yards with three interceptions. He failed to throw a single touchdown and led the Express to just 18 total points through two games, tied for the fewest in the AAF.
Hackenberg did manage to rush for one touchdown while tacking on 47 yards on the ground but fumbled twice in eight quarters. With the Express offense stalling again during Week 3 and showing virtually no sign of life, the decision to switch to Mettenberger certainly didn’t come as a surprise.
What’s Next for Christian Hackenberg?
Hackenberg was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft after an up-and-down collegiate career. Over three seasons at Penn State, he completed just 56.1 percent of his passes for 8,318 yards, 48 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He flashed upside at points and was able to enter a competition for the team’s starting quarterback job in his second season.
The 24-year-old lost out to Josh McCown for the job and was even behind Bryce Petty for the backup job that season. He didn’t play a down in either of his first two years and was traded to the Oakland Raiders prior to 2018, but Jon Gruden and company proceeded to waive him less than one month later. Hackenberg then spent time with both the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals during 2018 before heading to the AAF.
It’s unlikely that Hackenberg will receive another opportunity to play this season and there’s at least a chance that we’ve seen the end of the quarterback’s career.