Thomas B. Shea
Chad Henne should start for the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Tennessee Titans in Week 12, regardless of how healthy Blaine Gabbert is, but it's not the easy decision you might think it is.
Chad Henne had the best day of his career on Sunday against the Houston Texans, throwing for 354 yards and four touchdowns after replacing Blaine Gabbert early in the game. Gabbert had been dealing with a non-throwing shoulder injury, but hurt his elbow as he got his trying to throw the football and didn't come back in the game.
Henne proceeded to hit on some big passing plays after he took over, including a long catch and run by rookie Justin Blackmon, which at that moment was the longest play of his career. After hitting Marcedes Lewis in the endzone with a jump ball for a touchdown, on the next drive Henne connected with Cecil Shorts III for a 67-yard touchdown after Shorts made a few defenders miss.
All in all, it was a surprisingly good and effective day from the Jaguars back up quarterback coming in for an injured Blaine Gabbert. In fact, it was more than good and statistically one of the best games from a Jaguars quarterback that I can remember in a long, long time. This of course leads to people wonder if and saying that Chad Henne should start for the Jaguars against the Tennessee Titans, and I agree that he should.
Simply put, Chad Henne earned another chance to start, especially with an injury to Gabbert's throwing arm.
Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey was non-committal about who the starting quarterback would be against the Titans, which is pretty typical after a game when the starter is knocked out with an injury. They'll likely assess Gabbert's injury, watch the film, and then make a decision. While Henne's play certainly dictates that he should get another shot to show what he can do, it's not quite as simple as that for this 2012 Jaguars.
Blaine Gabbert is Gene Smith and Mike Mularkey's "golden goose" so to speak. General managers and their quarterbacks are tied to the hip and if the Jaguars decide to bench Gabbert in favor of Henne it's admitting failure, and teams typically don't like to do that. Mularkey was brought in with the goal to mold Gabbert and get what they could out of him and if he failed, that mean's Gene Smith failed and that means both will be fired at the end of the season. If you make the switch to Henne as well, you can't yo-yo your quarterbacks if he has a bad game. Once the toothpaste is out, you can't put it back in the jar.
"It's tied to the hip with Gene," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said at Mularkey's introductory press conference.
Going forward, neither Chad Henne nor Blaine Gabbert appear to be the answer at quarterback for the Jaguars, but it's that point in the season when you should know what you've got with each one and play the player who gives you the best chance to win. There's not much in the final six games that Gabbert could do to change your mind one way or the other.
It's awfully hard to sign your own pink slip, however.