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Will the Jaguars keep Chad Henne?

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Mike Ehrmann

The Jacksonville Jaguars passed on drafting a quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft, instead bringing in Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers as undrafted free agents. Going forward, the team has preached an open competition at the quarterback spot, but the odds on favorite to win the job is third-year quarterback and former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert. His biggest competition is going to be veteran Chad Henne, but last season in training camp Henne was terrible and he bombed out the rest of the season in 2012 once he took over the starting role.

The bigger question that will be asked after training camp is; Is there any reason to carry Chad Henne on the final roster if the rookies are anywhere close to him, in terms of performance?

There's a belief by some that Henne was better than Gabbert in the 2012 season, but that really wasn't the case. A lot of people have Henne's 350+ yard, 4 touchdown performance against the Houston Texans burned into their brain, but Henne never played up to that level again during the rest of the season and in that game he actually began his spiral into poor play.

Henne racked up yards and touchdowns early on, but ended the game ice cold, which was a big reason the Jaguars ended up losing. Henne finished out the season passing for just six touchdowns and throwing 10 interceptions in the final 10 games as the Jaguars finished the 2012 season with a 1-5 record. As a matter of fact, the Jaguars probably would have pulled Chad Henne from the final game against the Titans if they had anyone close to being a viable option on the bench that day, but they didn't.

Chad Henne beyond the box score (via ProFootballFocus):

Player Dropbacks TD UP INT UP Comp% UP 2.5 sec < Comp% 2.6 sec > Comp% UP QB Rating Avg. Time to Throw PFF Rating
Chad Henne 348 0 6 36.6 57.6 48.0 27.0 2.53 -7.3
Blaine Gabbert 309 4 1 57.7 57.9 58.9 85.9 2.56 -4.3
KEY: UP - under pressure

The difference between Henne and Blaine Gabbert in the 2012 season really wasn't as much as some people make it out to be. Henne had a few flashier plays, but overall the two quarterbacks were equally as poor. Henne threw for more yards and touchdowns, but he also completed significantly less percentage of passes, was sacked more, and turned the ball over more than Gabbert did. Not only that, but after the Jaguars put up 37 points against the Houston Texans, the offense under Henne struggled to put points on the board the following six games, scoring 20 or less (10 or less twice) in five of the final six games.

Fast forward to May and the Jaguars have a four-way quarterback competition, with Henne stuck right in the middle as the "old guy" of the group carrying a $4.15 million cap hit.

If Henne is poor once again in training camp and the preseason like he was in 2012 and rookies Scott and Rodgers aren't utter disasters, is there any reason to really retain Henne on the final roster? The Jaguars rationalized their first round selection of a right tackle on the fact that Blaine Gabbert was much better when he has 2.6+ seconds to throw and by the numbers Henne was pretty poor when he had more time to throw. Everything signals the team building around Gabbert having one final shot in 2013, so it's highly unlikely Henne wins the starting job.

Not only that, but if Gabbert falters again is there any benefit to slotting Chad Henne into the lineup, from the future of the franchise perspective? The Jaguars are likely going into the 2014 offseason in search of a franchise quarterback, barring the light coming on for Gabbert, so wouldn't it be in the team's best interest to move on to a younger player like Scott or Rodgers if Gabbert falters, rather than Henne?

Don't we already know what Henne is? Is there any real point in playing him further if Gabbert fails again?

Now, all that being said I fully expect Henne to wind up on the final roster, but that's more based on my thoughts of Scott and Rodgers than my belief in Henne, but if the two rookies are close I wouldn't be shocked to see the Jaguars save themselves $3 million on the books.

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