Who would have thought that Chad Henne would be the key to unlocking the Jaguars potential.
As it turns out, the Jaguars aren't so hapless after all. All it took was a "Gabbertectomy" to see the type of potential that this team may have. While no one is saying that the Jags are capable of being playoff contenders anytime soon, they are capable of being more than the laughing stock of the NFL.
Since the removal of Gabbert from the lineup due to his bum shoulder, the Jaguars have put up their two highest point totals of the season. Last week they took the first place Houston Texans to the brink of defeat before ultimately falling short, 37-43.
Then this week they took down a well rested Titans team that was coming off of their bye week with a 24-19 victory. Both point totals were above their 17.1 PPG average for the season.
Chad Henne's yardage total for the combined games was higher than any two games combined for Blaine Gabbert this season. While I don't think anyone really expects Henne to be the franchise quarterback of the future, it does show the potential that the offense has when there is a capable quarterback leading the way.
The offense has two exciting young wide receivers in Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon. Both receivers have had the best games of their careers since Henne has taken over.
The Jaguars also have great depth at the running back position. Although Maurice Jones-Drew has been hurt for most of the season, he still has another year on his contract and has great young players behind him in Rashad Jennings and Jalen Parmele.
Marcedes Lewis, the Jaguars top tight end, is starting to show signs of cashing in on the potential that the Jaguars have seen in him. He has had two of his best games of the season since Gabbert has gone out.
Are the Jaguars better in the Long Run Without Gabbert?
By no means am I saying that Gabbert has been the source of all the problems in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have had a severe problem on defense getting to the quarterback the last few seasons. They are currently dead last in the NFL with just 13 sacks on the season. No player on the Jaguars roster has more than two sacks on the season.
However, with Henne showing an ability to hold down the quarterback position, this could open up the opportunity for the Jaguars to use their top pick in April's draft to take a player that can help put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Although the Jaguars need upgrading at almost every position on defense, drafting a player that can put pressure on the quarterback can help cover up shortfalls at other positions until upgrades can be found.
The Jaguars do have solid cornerbacks to work off of in Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis. Although Mathis is starting to show his age, he is still a legitimate starter until a replacement can be developed. Cox has shown promise and could develop into a strong, starting corner.
While the Jaguars have a long road ahead of them before they will be able to battle with the likes of the Texans and Colts on a year-to-year basis, the departure of Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback could put the wheels in motion to getting the team back to respectability in the AFC South.