Diagnosing 2-14: Quarterback
By Luke Sims
Chad Henne proved that he is most certainly not the answer at quarterback during the 2012 season. Source: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Over the next week or so we will be going through the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 roster to try and find the problems that led to the franchise’s worst-ever record: 2-14. There were so many problems with this team that it goes well beyond one article. So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll take it one position at a time.
This week: the quarterback.
The Jaguars had two quarterbacks start for the team during the 2012 season. Blaine Gabbert started the first 10 games before being benched in favor of backup Chad Henne and then placed on IR with shoulder and elbow injuries. Henne startd the final six games and managed to do only slightly better than Gabbert.
Henne, the experienced backup who was supposed to be the best available backup in 2012 free agency, did little to prove that this team was just a quarterback away from competing. It is obvious from the statistics above that the Jaguars’ quarterback position was mired in bad to mediocre playing. Worse, the team was not complete enough to mask this. Neither Henne nor Gabbert had an average per attempt of higher than seven yards per attempt. Combined, the quarterback position was sacked 50 times and threw an interception on almost three percent of throws.
It’s no surprise that Gabbert and Henne were ranked at the bottom of all league quarterbacks. Pro Football Focus graded Henne (30th overall) at -7.3 and Gabbert (27th overall) at -4.3. Without any support from the run game and without any any good blocking, neither quarterback was good enough to get the ball to the receivers on the outside.
The young, inexperience Blaine Gabbert outperformed his veteran backup when under pressure during 2012. Source: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Henne was particularly bad under pressure. Henne failed to pass effectively when the pressure came from blitzes and when it came from the front four or front three. When under pressure Henne completed just 36.6% of his passes. He threw six of his interceptions and no touchdowns to go with his atrocious completion percentage. When blitzed, the story was better but not by much. Henne completed just 46.2% of his passes while being blitzed, but he threw more interceptions when blitzed than when not blitzed.
Gabbert, in comparison to Henne, did much better than his backup against pressure. Gabbert managed to complete 57.7% of his passes when under pressure and threw four touchdowns to one interception. Gabbert was very good against blitzes, completing 59.3% of his passes and not tossing a single interception. His 93.0 QB rating when being blitzed was a big improvement over his 61.8 during his rookie campaign.
Henne and Gabbert both struggled when passing the ball deep. Gabbert completed just 25% (7-28) of his passes thrown past 20 yards and Henne completed only 34.3% (11-32) thrown past 20 yards. Both quarterbacks had two touchdowns and two interceptions when throwing deep. The lack of deep passing efficiency led to a lack of explosiveness on offense. Further, the lack of success when passing deep allowed the safeties to play up more and effectively cut off shorter routes and stop run plays.
Both quarterbacks had problems on the receiving end of their passes (50 drops by receivers), but that is for another story.
For now, what we know is pretty obvious: the Jaguars’ quarterbacks did not play well in 2012. Henne’s numbers are particularly troubling and should (in my opinion) lead to his release in the offseason. Gabbert’s numbers, especially while under pressure, suggest that his growth is going somewhere and that, had he finished the season, the Jaguars may have been better than 2-14.
That said, the quarterback is just a part of the problem. Up next, we’ll look at the offensive line while diagnosing how we got to 2-14.
– Luke N. Sims
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