2012 NFL Free Agency: The Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert Needs Chad Henne to Grow

David LevinSenior Writer IIMarch 16, 2012

MIAMI - OCTOBER 4: Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins passes against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Field on October 4, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Maybe more significant than the signing of Laurent Robinson to a five-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars was the inking of Chad Henne’s two-year contract.

While finding receivers is something more readily done by scouts and general managers throughout the season, finding a passer who can not only be accurate and on target, but a leader in the locker room and on the field is crucial to the development of a young team in the NFL such as the Jaguars.

Jacksonville may have found that player in Henne.

While I am not writing off Blaine Gabbert in any way, this offseason is without a doubt the most important offseason of Gabbert’s life, and maybe the franchise’s history. While we have seen quarterback battles before in David Garrard and Byron Leftwich, this one may prove to be the reason Jacksonville is a contender for the next decade.

The fact is very clear: Blaine Gabbert needs Chad Henne.

Henne is more experienced, more accurate and more confident right now. Gabbert is the future and if the strong-armed 22-year-old learns anything in life or in the NFL, it is that the position of quarterback is the most scrutinized of all, and the one where you are the hero one day and the goat the next. Gabbert was the latter more often than the former.

This is not to say Henne does not have any work to do on his game. He was miscast as a savior of sorts in Miami, and was merely average. He wasn’t Dan Marino or Bob Griese, but was better than David Woodley. Frankly, I think the Dolphin fans in Miami would have settled for Ron Jaworski in his later years on the team.

But Henne is here for competition. That means a starting job. That means more reps with the starting unit. That means more media hype. That means more questions about the future. And it also means we do not have to play out the syrupy-sweet “buddy fest” that David Garrard and Gabbert had last season before the veteran was released. Both quarterbacks must have a fire inside, or they will not accomplish what they need to accomplish or what the team needs them to do to get over .500. That is start.

The contract Henne signed was for two years and roughly over $6 million; not a lot for a quarterback in the league today. Henne has starting experience, and should be motivated to make his presence felt in North Florida. While he was supposed to be the next great quarterback in Miami lore, here, he can compete, show what he truly has in the tank and possibly be the opening day starter.

While fans expect the youngster Gabbert to be behind center, it may be the person with more experience, not more talent, that proves to be a better fit at this time.