May 13, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert (11) and Chad Henne (7) chat as they walk off the field after organized team activities at The Florida Blue Health

Why Starting Chad Henne Makes No Sense


Ron Jaworski on ESPN recently started his offseason quarterback countdown. In his preseason list last year, Jaws ranked Blaine Gabbert 29th, one spot ahead of Tim Tebow. This year Jaws has Chad Henne ranked 29th, with Kevin Kolb, Jake Locker, and Matt Flynn behind him at 30, 31, and 32 respectively. The obvious implication here is Blaine Gabbert is not on the list at all. A YouTube clip of the segment is below (although probably not for very long).

Let’s start off by taking a look at some of the points Jaws makes in his basis for ranking Chad Henne.

  • Chad Henne excels at throwing between the numbers, in the seam.

Watching Henne last year, he did have decent anticipation on seam routes and had no problem letting it rip with tight coverage. Unfortunately, some of Henne’s success on these throws can be attributed to luck or a straight-up fluke. The best example is the 81 yard touchdown to Justin Blackmon against Houston (1:08 in the clip).

Blackmon bailed Henne out a few times in the Houston game. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Blackmon bailed Henne out a few times in the Houston game.

Chad Henne drops it in to Blackmon against three defenders, one of whom was the safety who should have absolutely annihilated Blackmon. The safety obviously let up for fear of a 15-yard penalty and a hefty fine from the league offices for hitting a defenseless receiver. This led to an odd collision where Blackmon was able to wiggle free and run for a touchdown.  Yes, this play worked out but it was reckless and Henne hung his receiver out to dry. Henne had throws like this often and his high turnover rate over the last few games of the season can be partially attributed to that.

  • Justin Blackmon’s targets went up significantly when Henne started.

Here are Blackmon and Cecil Shorts’ targets for the season.

Week

Blackmon

Shorts

Week

Blackmon

Shorts

1

6

7

10

5

14

2

0

0

11

14

6

3

5

2

12

6

7

4

10

5

13

6

12

5

8

3

14

12

N/A

6

BYE

BYE

15

11

11

7

4

10

16

12

11

8

8

12

17

13

N/A

9

9

4

  

Blackmon’s targets steadily increased as the season went along, which can probably be attributed to a rookie wide receiver getting more comfortable to the speed and physicality of the NFL. Additionally, Shorts was sidelined towards the end of the season due to concussions. Furthermore, with Maurice Jones-Drew out of the lineup after the Oakland game, Mularkey was forced to throw the ball more often so naturally Blackmon saw the ball go his way a little more.

  • Chad Henne holds on to the ball too long.

Yes. This. This so much. Henne has a tendency to hold the ball too long and then apparently decide to throw the ball just because. Henne’s interceptions are infinitely more frustrating when you can tell he throws it despite not really watching the route develop whatsoever.

Oct 28, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jaws starts his segment by saying Chad Henne is the “best quarterback on the Jaguars’ roster, and should be the opening day starter in 2013.” Even ignoring the holes I poked in his evaluation of Henne, this makes absolutely no sense.

Let’s accept the premise that right now Henne is better than Blaine Gabbert. So sure, let’s go ahead and start Chad Henne. How many games will he win you? 5? 6? Maybe 7 if he can take care of the ball at a level he never has before? Why mire in mediocrity with a quarterback that is never going to take you to the Super Bowl?

Henne is a known quantity – he’s a below-average and occasionally average quarterback who is never going to be elite. There are still some unknowns to Gabbert’s overall potential that are worth exploring.  Gabbert might perform like he has the last 2 seasons – overly cautious, indecisive, unable to manipulate the pocket – but going 3-13 with Gabbert next year is better long term than going 6-10 with Chad Henne. It’s hard to accept the premise that losing more games is better for the franchise, but in this scenario it’s absolutely how fans should be approaching the 2013 season.

So everyone, please stop. Chad Henne shouldn’t, and most likely won’t, be the opening day starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

- Daniel Lago

Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89

Tags: Blaine Gabbert Chad Henne Jacksonville Jaguars