Let’s get this straight right out of the gate, Blaine Gabbert is the future of the season and could still be the future of the franchise. Chad Henne was and is an insurance policy. Gabbert deserves to show some level of progress in his second year starting.
That said, there has been a serious clamor among fans for Henne to start. While I personally disagree with the decision, I do think that it’s worth analyzing. Can Henne do a better job? Can Henne be the future of the franchise?
While I have serious doubts about the former question – as head coach Mike Mularkey has said, this is an everything problem not a quarterback problem – I do think that it is possible that Henne could be the future of the franchise. Just because a quarterback isn’t from the first round and wasn’t drafted by its current team doesn’t mean he can’t be the franchise quarterback they need. Kurt Warner was a backup before making it big with two franchises, Brett Favre started in Atlanta, Steve Young started in Tampa Bay.
All of those players have something similar: the potential to be great. The Dolphins also saw that potential in Henne. That potential why they spent a second round pick on him. The potential is still there.
Why do we think that simply because Henne is 27 he suddenly can’t be the future of a franchise? Why is he a bandaid if he is starting? Bandaids have done great things, just look at Warner, Brad Johnson, and Trent Dilfer. Did they all stick it out with their franchises, no. But Johnson had a resurgence with the Vikings, Warner had a resurgence with the Cardinals, and Dilfer…well he became a good analyst. Fun fact for you, Henne is still younger than Cleveland’s rookie QB Brandon Weeden. Just because he’s older doesn’t mean he can’t be effective or that foundation to build upon.
The question now becomes, can Henne be effective? While the bandaid problem is less of a concern for me, I know a lot of fans can’t get past it. But once you do you have to wonder if he can do anything better than Gabbert. Will the receivers suddenly be able to catch the ball? Will the offensive line hold up better now? While I don’t think either will, I do think that in Henne you have a proven commodity. It’s one of the reasons why he was considered the best backup in free agency. Henne has thrown for over 3,000 yards in a season (something I think we’ll miss out on again in 2012), he has won more than five games in his career, and he may just have that extra bit of poise that allows him to succeed behind a terrible pass-protection line.
I don’t think it’s time to put Henne in. I don’t think that he’s the guy the Jags want as the future. But at some point we have to wonder if it wouldn’t be beneficial. He may not be any better than Gabbert with these guys, but would it really be so bad if he became the future of the franchise? I don’t think it would be. I wasn’t a big fan of Gabbert coming out of college (I wanted the team to pick Ricky Stanzi or Andy Dalton…yes, in that order), but I think he has shown some development this offseason. He is maturing (seriously, the hair is an indication of it). He understands the game so much more than he did last year. He deserves more than just this season and last to prove he’s the guy.
There’s a bit of doom and gloom going around the Jags right now, but let’s analyze the situation from all angles rather than having another knee jerk reaction. Let’s not put in Henne because we’re tired of seeing Gabbert, let’s put in Henne because we think he can be a successful part of this franchise. If the team doesn’t think that then he should continue to sit the bench. Right now, I think Mularkey likes what he sees in Gabbert. There’s a reason he hasn’t benched him and was willing to work with him when he took the head coaching job.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims