UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 11:57 a.m. ET
Well, it appears that Mike Mularkey didn't have much of a choice when it came to naming Chad Henne his new starter at quarterback. Apparently, Blaine Gabbert wouldn't have been able to go anyway—this week, or any other week.
The Jacksonville Jaguars tweeted the news on Wednesday:
#Jaguars place Blaine Gabbert (rt forearm/left shoulder)and Laurent Robinson (concussion) on injured reserve.— Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) November 21, 2012
---End of Update---
At a certain point, Mike Mularkey didn't have a choice. He had to do something about the state of his team.
Unfortunately for Blaine Gabbert, that something was demoting the possibly-injured quarterback.
Nobody is fooling him or herself into believing that the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to accomplish anything this season. The jig is up; they're 1-9, they're in fourth place in the AFC South and the consensus is that they are the worst team in the NFL.
However, the worst thing any team can do is give up. Therefore, in the spirit of putting forth the best effort for the remaining six games on this season's schedule, Mularkey announced on Monday that Gabbert would be replaced by Chad Henne, according to USA Today.
Henne came into the game after Gabbert hurt his right forearm early in Sunday's 43-37 overtime loss to the Houston Texans. In relief, he threw a career-high four touchdowns. Mularkey said that Gabbert's demotion and Henne's promotion are based on the team's performance on Sunday, rather than Gabbert's injury, according to USA Today.
[Henne's] been a starter in the league. He’s had some success at that position. He was brought in here in case something happened to Blaine, to step in there and produce, which he did. He prepares like he’s a starter every week. That’s the one thing about him. He has been as much of a help for Blaine’s progress as anybody. He prepares every week just like he’s going to play every down. He doesn’t get all the reps, but he watches a lot of film. He’s taught our young guys how to watch film and actually understand what they’re watching and what they’re looking for.
If Henne was the guy who led the team to a near-upset of the 9-1 Texans, then Mularkey is right. He deserves a chance. It can't really get worse for the Jaguars, and Henne looked pretty good on Sunday, so why not?
Prior to going down with the injury, Gabbert had completed each of his two pass attempts for 24 yards. Prior to Sunday's game, he had led the Jaguars to a single win this season, over the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 23. He had thrown nine touchdowns and six interceptions for an average passer rating of 77.4.
Henne, meanwhile, connected on 16 of 33 passes in relief of Gabbert on Sunday and threw for 354 yards, four TDs and zero interceptions. He's played sparingly this season, appearing in just four games and making 71 pass attempts. However, the former second-round draft pick and Miami Dolphins starter has more experience than Gabbert, who went 4-10 last year in his first season with the Jags.
Next on tap for the Jaguars are the Tennessee Titans, one of the more beatable teams Jacksonville has faced of late. The Titans are 4-6 and third in the AFC South, and though they're coming off a 37-3 win over Miami, perhaps the Jags are hoping they can catch their division rivals off-guard with a new QB as they return from their bye week.
Who knows? Maybe if Henne develops a bit of a rhythm under center—and maybe if he develops some chemistry with the rest of this offense—the Jaguars can go on a bit of a run to close out the season. Remaining on their schedule are two games against the Titans and a slate against the AFC East, which is far from the toughest division in the league.
Jacksonville has some very winnable games left on its schedule, and it's very possible that Henne has what it takes to help this team capitalize, judging by what he did to Houston on Sunday.
On the other hand, it's possible that the game was a fluke and he'll be just as bad as Gabbert.
However, given where the Jaguars are right now, it isn't going to hurt to try. They have nothing to lose.