Chad Henne, the quarterback the Jacksonville Jaguars signed this offseason to back up Blaine Gabbert, will be adjusting to the life of a non-starter. A role that he hasn’t played in a few years. Being a backup quarterback, especially one who started the majority of games for a franchise for two years, is a different role than leading a franchise.
Some quarterbacks play the role perfectly. Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner, and Brad Johnson all managed to transition from top league quarterbacks to successful backups. They worked hard with their teams, they helped guide younger quarterbacks as they tried for success in the NFL. And when their teams called their numbers? Collins responded by leading the Titans to the AFC South title, Warner led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl, and Johnson led the Vikings to a 7-2 record in games he started, just falling short of the playoffs.
These quarterbacks all stayed sharp. They all had success during their time starting for teams. What sets them apart from the Byron Leftwiches, the David Carrs, and the Trent Edwards? Is it all about skill? Is it all just superior performance? Or does it have something to do with the ability to sit down and understand one’s role?
I’m willing to argue the latter. David Carr had a rough go of it in Houston. He is the most sacked quarterback in his first season. Byron Leftwich had a big arm and could read defenses. He wasn’t the most mobile quarterback, but neither was Drew Bledsoe or Collins. And what about Trent Edwards? A little gun-shy, sure, but the kid could take his backup time and work harder to understand pressures and regain a starting role.
Chad Henne will be coming into a backup role in Jacksonville. For the good of the franchise and his own professional career, it behooves the signal caller to work hard, study hard, and try to help the franchise as a whole. If a player is truly invested in the team he plays for. Henne won’t be as far removed from starting as Warner, Collins, or Johnson were. He never experienced the success that all three of those quarterbacks had (All three went to a Superbowl), but he has a strong arm and knows how to lead an offense.
He won’t be leading the first team offense during practice, but by working hard he will be able to improve the Jaguars chances of winning every time he steps on the field.
And if Henne is forced into the leading the Jaguars, I want him as prepared as he possibly can be. I wish him the best of success in his learning the role of the backup quarterback. It’s often overlooked, but the role can be considerably more beneficial than people realize. Just ask Warner, Collins, and Johnson.
- Luke N. Sims