When the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft to select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, they felt like they had finally found their franchise quarterback. However, Gabbert's play on the field last season resulted in more questions than answers.
Gabbert started the final 14 games for the Jaguars but did very little to impress, finishing 4-10. During that stretch, he managed to complete just over 50 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was also sacked 40 times, which was third most in the league.
Gabbert played most of the season facing heavy pressure from opposing defenses. With that said, he did not handle the pressure well. He didn't step up in the pocket and make the throw. He preferred to roll out and try to escape. In many instances, he seemed to cower at the pressure and blindly throw the ball downfield.
There was not a single game last year where Gabbert looked worthy of the 10th overall pick. This caused many former players and analysts in the national media to question his mental make-up and toughness.
So, it came as little surprise when the Jags elected to pursue a quality veteran quarterback to back up Gabbert and push him in practice. What was a shock was the signing of Chad Henne—the former Dolphins' signal-caller. Henne was scheduled to fly to Seattle and meet with the Seahawks after meeting with Jacksonville. He never made that flight.
Henne could have signed with Seattle and instantly been in competition for the starting job, but he elected to sign with the Jaguars, and essentially be Gabbert's backup—or was he told something different?
Henne spent four seasons, only two full seasons of play, with the Miami Dolphins, throwing for 7,114 yards, 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. He also had a completion percentage over 60 percent. He was also never sacked more than 30 times in one season, and he's not afraid to stand in the pocket, take the hit and still deliver the ball downfield.
Experience, completion percentage and situational management all seem to point towards Henne being the better, more readily prepared quarterback on the Jaguars' roster. So, could he start in Week 1? Should he?
Henne has seen what the NFL can throw at you for several years. He has years of "pro style" experience, dating back to his days at the University of Michigan. He's been a more accurate passer than Gabbert, and given a more quarterback friendly offense than what he dealt with in Miami, Henne has the tools to thrive.
Gabbert may be the franchise quarterback of the future, but he's not ready right now. He still needs to learn the nuances of playing in a "pro style" offense and might be best-served sitting for a year or two.
Henne, on the other hand, can step in and immediately make Jacksonville a playoff contender, just by adding stable quarterback play.
Chad Henne represents the best play for the Jaguars right now.