Is there a quarterback competition in Jacksonville? No. I do not believe there is and anyone who would make this claim would only do so in an attempt to draw yet more negative attention to an already out of control offseason. Just reading about the OTAs and mini-camp, it’s obvious much work is going into Gabbert’s development. I actually call it a “re-development.” According to Mularkey, Gabbert is being stripped down and being rebuilt. What will the results be? How much of this “progress” is true and how much is “mularkey”? Unfortunately, we will not know until the season starts.
What happens if the Jaguars start off 0-4? Should we make the switch to Henne? I’m of firm belief that the only way a player can get better is by actually seeing game action. Last season could be considered a scratch. Gabbert suffered the lack of a full offseason called the lockout. Entering the somewhat rushed training camp, he was under the idea that he would “sit and learn.” Guess what kid? David Garrard will be cut mere weeks away from the season opener and YOU will be forced into a starting role in which you had absolutely no time to prepare for. With all of these factors thrown into the equation, I don’t care if the Jags start off 0-6 and end up picking in the top 5 of the 2013 draft. Give Gabbert a chance. We’ll never know what we have in him if we do not play him. I can live with this situation.
What I cannot live with is Gabbert going down mid season, regardless of how well or how poorly he is playing, and we do not have an adequate replacement. Enter Chad Henne.
I was thrilled when the front office went out and signed a relatively young, veteran quarterback with NFL experience. Yes, Henne has somewhat of an injury history. At the same time, he’s kind of been thrown into bad situation after bad situation in Miami. No one really seemed to ever buy into him and he was quickly thrown to the wayside.
Henne was taken in the 2nd round in the 2008 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins. Since then he has posted a career 60.7% completion percentage, thrown for 7,114 yards, 31 touchdowns, 37 interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 75.7. The numbers are quite pedestrian. I see many fans scoff at the notion of such a mediocre quarterback taking the reigns of a team with a top 10 draft pick at the helm. Blaine’s got upside right?
I scoff at the notion as well, but I can’t help but think that we as fans forget the importance of a back up quarterback until the starter goes down. Remember the 2006 Bears? Yeah, Kyle Orton pretty much took the team into the playoffs before Sexy Rexy Grossman blew it in the big game. Looking on into the future I can’t help but to think that we hit a home run with this signing. Henne could easily still be in the mix as a starter in the league on some teams. Name another team that has a 2nd quarterback on the roster that could step into the starting line up and run the offense. It’s hard to do and in today’s NFL when injuries ravage teams, you cannot undermine the importance of a quarterback like Chad Henne.
Now am I saying if Gabbert doesn’t progress as fast as we’d like to see, we should just throw in the towel and let ole’ Chad take over? No. But we signed Henne for depth, and I’m sure he knows his role, knows what it takes to play in the league, and if Blaine goes down look for Henne to be ready to play.
-David R. Johns