Chad Henne will not, barring injury, start a game in 2012.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Blaine Gabbert is the future of the franchise. But not only is he the future, he is also the present. Sure, Gabbert didn’t have great numbers over his first season. Everybody looks mediocre coming away from a 12 touchdown, 11 interception, 2,214 yard, 50.8 completion percentage season.
But really, it wasn’t as bad as the statistics show.
So let’s take a peek at what the statistics are telling us:
- Blaine Gabbert completed a little over half of his 413 attempted passes.
- Blaine Gabbert turned the ball over 11 times when passing (excluding fumbles)
- The Jaguars dropped 26 passes in 2011 (24th in the league)
- Blaine managed an interception percentage of 2.7 in 2011
It doesn’t sound all that bad. Though it certainly doesn’t sound exceptional.
But the number two quarterback backing him up for 2012, Chad Henne isn’t much better. Sure, he has a few wins under his belt and a considerable number of starts (31). But he obviously hasn’t learned from his mistakes. Henne has 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. His season high of 3,301 yards in 2010 (through 15 games) and his 198 yards per game combined with his 60.7 completion percentage are pretty decent numbers for a quarterback. I’d say they are on the lower end of solid.
Could the Jaguars do well with a quarterback who slings it like Henne and turns the ball over a bit more (he had four touchdowns and four picks in four games before going out for the season in 2011)? Sure. But that’s not the question that needs to be answered. What needs to be answered is whether the Jaguars can afford to have a quarterback who will turn it over a bit more.
The offense under Gabbert sputtered largely due to inconsistent passing from Gabbert and poor route running and catching by the receivers. But the offense runs through running back Maurice Jones-Drew, not the quarterback. When the offense is channeled through a running back it makes your team more physically focused. You get used to grinding it out. The players are pushed into positions of gaining 3-5 yards on average per down rather than looking for that pass that nets 20+.
An offense that runs through the ballcarrier needs a consistent quarterback. A quarterback that isn’t going to allow the opposing offense back on the field.
With the Jags’ superb defense, they can almost afford a sputtering offense. But they need that offense to be on the field.
With Gabbert they have a better shot of not turning it over (provided he doesn’t get sack stripped so much).
Henne is a good fallback plan and will probably get some playing time partway into games when Gabbert is completely overmatched. But don’t look for him to start. Henne isn’t the man. He’ll push Gabbert, but Gabbert’s consistent mediocrity (assuming he doesn’t get any better) will always be better than a quarterback shooting the team in the foot.
- Luke N. Sims