It’s only been two games, but with a win clouding my judgment I think the question is one worth looking closer at.
In the last nine quarters (counting Houston’s overtime), Chad Henne has looked pretty good at quarterback. It may just be because I like wins more than steady development, but having David Garrard 2.0 type consistency doesn’t sound so bad to me right now. Henne has produced 615 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception in the last two games. He has completed 31 of 59 passes (52%) but it feels like so much more when he is leading drives down the field and players are making plays.
Henne makes this offense explosive.
But can he make this offense explosive consistently enough?
That’s the question head coach Mike Mularkey has posed to him and one he may find an answer to in the final five weeks of the season. The Jaguars are out of playoff contention and the team is playing for pride. As of this week, though, Henne is playing for a job.
If Henne continues to perform he could very well replace Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback for the 2013 season. Mularkey has made this known and is more than happy to see what he has in the gunslinging backup he has had sitting the bench all year.
With Gabbert on injured reserve the Jaguars have a chance to see if Henne can be “the guy” they expected Gabbert to develop into.
Chad Henne has had enough opportunities through his career with Miami to prove that he is “the guy” but has failed to do so. Right now it seems like a change of scenery has done more than a little good. Henne is playing at a level he hasn’t been able to sustain before. We’ll see if he can.
What does all of this mean for GM Gene Smith, Gabbert, Mularkey, and the team on the whole?
If Henne continues to perform then credit should be given to Mularkey for choosing to start him based on performance before Gabbert was placed on IR. Mularkey’s eye for change was good and his bold move was just a tad too delayed, unlike the moves by Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh to start rookies Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick over expected starters Matt Flynn and Alex Smith. Yet the move to start Henne shows that Mularkey is will to swallow his pride in order to make this team better.
That is something this team needs.
It will be curious to see if Smith will swallow his pride and endorse Henne like he endorsed Gabbert. Gabbert is tied to Smith and Smith to Gabbert. As Gabbert has struggled the heat has been turned up on Smith. Will Smith be happy to play the hot hand and take credit for finding such a good backup/potential starter in Henne or will he continue to push his project “franchise” quarterback in Gabbert. The choice could be the end or saving of Smith’s time in Jacksonville. How Khan sees it could decide his fate. The rest of the roster, and its evaluation, will of couse play a part.
Blaine Gabbert could be the biggest question mark of them all though. Gabbert has played better than last year with 1,662 yards, completing 58% of his passes, has nine touchdowns, and just six interceptions. His numbers are by no means great but show development that was much needed after last season. If Henne continues to perform at his high level he may eclipse Gabbert’s numbers in limited action this year – all with the same cast of playmakers we all examined repeatedly for fault while Gabbert was the starter. I think Gabbert will stick with the team since he has upside that may yet be untapped, but if Henne proves he could be “the guy” and start in 2013, expect Gabbert to finally get the time on the bench that the team anticipated him to get when he was first drafted.
Like I said, my head is still cloudy from the high of snapping a seven game losing streak, but if Henne’s the guy I don’t see a whole lot of bad. We get an Alex Smith type guy willing to ride the pine while hoping to finally come back and lead his team, we get a coach who is more aggressive and willing to make bold moves, and maybe we get a new general manager or a general manager who takes the opinion of his coach into account more in decision making. I say it’s a win-win scenario.
Of course, Henne could do what he tends to do and let us all down with another peformance with like the Oakland game.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims