Both Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne faced a lot of pressure from opposing defensive lines last year. When Mike Mularkey was hired he tried to install a high tempo, quick throw offense to make Gabbert more comfortable transitioning to an NFL system. Unfortunately both Gabbert and Henne had the tendency to hold the ball too long which, coupled with a leaky offensive line, led to several sacks, pressures, and hurries.
Steve Palazzolo at Pro Football Focus recently went through the quarterbacks in the AFC South and their performances depending on the origin of defensive pressure. Steve accumulated statistics going back to 2008, so the sample size is significantly bigger for Henne compared to Gabbert.
At first glance, it seems that Henne (+23.9 PFF Grade) is significantly better in the pocket with no pressure compared to Gabbert (-19.1). A better barometer for juxtaposing the two players is their performance under the same offense last year – Gabbert (+2.0) was slightly better than Henne (-0.9) in 2012 when not pressured. The statistics on Pro Football Focus are cumulative and that sometimes affects the overall evaluation if a closer look isn’t taken.
Henne often held the ball too long in 2012.
Both quarterbacks were hindered significantly by the laughable rotation at right tackle, as Gabbert (-1.8) and Henne (-3.1) were predictably bad when pressured on the right side. Gabbert overall seemed to struggle with interior pressure – (-4.8) from left guard, (-0.7) from center, and (-2.0) from right guard – which can probably be attributed to his overall lack of pocket presence.
Gabbert seemed to respond well to pressure from rushers taking on the running back (0.0) and the tight end (-0.6), but with only 12 drop backs combined from those two pressures the sample size is too small to make a conclusion.
While it’s fun to try and find subtle differences between Gabbert and Henne, the cold truth is that they were both pretty awful last year. The PFF statistics back it up – Henne (-4.3) and Gabbert (-2.1) in 2012 – but they both fail the eye test. Henne likely won’t be on the roster in 2013, so Gabbert is going to have to look a lot better on the field and analytically to stay in a Jaguars’ uniform.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89