You almost know it won't be pretty, regardless of the lines after lines of PR put out by the team. The fans know it, yet we support our team. I say brilliant job to all of you! I applaud your applause to them! This Jaguars team deserves no less than constant applause from the fans. How else do you become the best fanbase in the NFL, huh? Hell, everyone knows to stay away from Jags fans on Twitter. Yet we do wish there were better options at QB..... and we get another "Quarterback Battle". Fun.
Entering Week 2 of the 2013 NFL Preseason, the Jaguars find themselves witnessing yet another Quarterback Battle. At this point in the young franchise's history, it feels similar to a yearly 'special event' marking the seeming ineptitude and lack of growth surrounding the position when compared to other teams. Every year the fans wonder if there will be a good starter and seemingly every year the thirst for greatness from the position gets ignored. With no proof that a good QB will emerge from this heap, the fans grow antsy once again and with this lack of proven, effective starting quarterback the fans get more and more worried regarding the upcoming season.
On a good note, however, the Jaguars don't seem to ever have low character individuals playing quarterback and that truly is something to enjoy. This is worth noting.
In regards to the (in)famous Quarterback Battle, let's look at the past. The first starter, Steve Beuerlin, eventually lost to Mark Brunell. Brunell then maintained the job for a while, starting at least 13 games for an 8-year stretch and giving Jaguars fans an idea of what a staple at QB looked like. Eventurally Brunell lost to first-round pick Byron Leftwich, who lost to career backup David Garrard who influenced 5 seasons for the team and then lost to Blaine Gabbert, who never fully secured the starting position based on play but on draft status alone. Now Gabbert finds himself battling with Miami Dolphins castoff Chad Henne.
Does the trend continue? Will Chad Henne win the job and then lose it to someone else within a few years? More than likely Coach Bradley will not call Todd Bouman off the tractor.
A quick stat to note regarding the Quarterback Battle, the incumbent (Gabbert) averages a career average of 5.6 yards per pass in 25 games and the challenger (Henne) averages a career of 6.7 in 46 games. In 2012 Gabbert brought his average up with 6.0 for the season, Henne maintained right around his average at 6.8. These numbers will not determine the Quarterback Battle winner but they are interesting to note. For example, Saints QB Drew Brees averages 7.5 for his career and 7.7 in 2012. That was without Sean Payton, the year before Brees managed 8.3... coaches, huh?
So what do the current Jaguars QB's bring to the table?
6'4", 235 lbs
Good size, big arm, tends to pass to a shorter route when both are available
Mobility can be an asset when used correctly, however Gabbert tends to look for the pass more than the run which leads to him having the potential to be a weapon in the passing game as well as an asset on the outside on a roll out play and to scramble for a few yards when plays breakdown. Gabbert truly could develop into a weapon for the Jaguars if he ever breaches into his potential. This brings us to....
Potential is the word most associated with Gabbert. Gabbert never seems to fully unlock or really even tap into (with any sign of consistency) all that talked about potential. He has prototypical size, a big arm, toughness, leadership, players believe in him, he can fit the ball into a tight window, he is mobile.... should I say more? Yes. He never puts it all together. From all reports Gabbert is a very intelligent man and could quite easily turn into a great passer of the football and reader of defenses. He could become an awesome quarterback. The key word is could.
The matter of patience will continually be brought up regarding Gabbert throughout his career unless he ever puts it together. Luckily for the Jaguars and their needs to explore Gabbert, he has an agreeable rookie contract. AKA not Sam Bradford's. Gabbert's largest problem is that he looks for the short, quick, and easy dump pass. This is good because it keeps him mistake free. This is horrible because he misses many open reads down the field and wastes the efforts of his receivers.
6'3:, 230 lbs
Good size, big arm but not quite as strong as Gabbert's, tends to pass toward the middle of the field and take chances that risk turnovers or big plays.
Chad Henne is a stereotypical pocket passer. If you see him running, just know the situation is desperate. This is not a slight, just more definition towards the type of football Chad Henne plays best. In regards to his passing, he possesses the ability (just like Gabbert) to hit the proverbial honey hole. No, that is not a good deer hunting spot.
Chad Henne can make the passes that separate the men from the boys in the QB arena. However, he balances that out by misfiring to (most often) the middle of the field. There is a bit of an 'A for effort' mixed with an 'Oh, he did THAT again'. You almost can't believe what you are watching. Whereas Gabbert dumps the ball down, Henne tries to make it fit into a tight window anyway. Henne, in his own way, is Gabbert with no averseness to risk. If Henne ever put all of his own potential together, he could be in the Pro Bowl. He really has that type of talent. Henne helps the immediate future for the team with a stronger chance to win now. You could even feel that the Jaguars were more in games with Henne in 2012 than with Gabbert. Henne just passed the eye test and the players seemed more than willing to run routes and block with him in there.
Draft Status and the Future
The Jaguars current front office personnel and coaching staff have no vested interest in Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne. Most likely both players are out of the running for QB1 next season. However, GM Dave Caldwell knows that Gabbert has these (in)famous tools to be a truly great player in the NFL. They can risk free test out Gabbert in 2013 to fully know what Gabbert is in this league with their influence. It's actually a great situation for them. The GM and HC are safe no matter what happens in the games this year. They are operating with the owners confidence and it will take some drama and a few season as wet with promise as a desert to break that.
Gabbert was a top-10 draft pick and they have every reason to see what they can get out of him. If it works, then great! They don't need to find a QB. If it doesn't work then they get the comfort of another top-10 pick, possibly higher, and can move on with the direction of the Franchise. Gabbert could quite possibly become something great for the team or help them get better positioning to draft a top-ranked player next year (think Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater).
Henne essentially has no future, regardless of if he is the better player. Chad Henne is 28. Blaine Gabbert will turn 24 in October. Unless Henne can have a late rise to his career a la Kurt Warner, then the Jaguars have no reason to disregard the younger QB with potential verse the older QB with potential. As it stands today, both are capable of leading the team forward with tough grit and leadership and football promise. Neither has fulfilled this on-the-field promise. Hopefully someone can step up demonstratively and never look back, that would be best for the Franchise.
Unfortunately the team will most likely be picking top-5 in the draft and look to take the QB of the future with their first pick.