Why the Jaguars Can't Hitch Their Wagon to Chad Henne

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2012

Nov 25, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) in the first quarter of their game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

Chad Henne, much like Blaine Gabbert, simply isn't a viable option as a starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Henne has taken over things under center for Jacksonville with Gabbert out for the season, but it's been mostly the same story on the offensive side of things—which isn't a good thing. 

With the way the Jaguars had been playing before Henne took the job, it appeared as if the lowly franchise was once again headed for a top pick in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft, which it would subsequently use on a top quarterback prospect. 

That sentiment changed quickly, and according to ProFootballTalk, head coach Mike Murlarkey believes Henne has a chance to win the starting job in Jacksonville for the 2013 season based on how he performs the rest of the way this year:

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said after announcing that Gabbert is on injured reserve that if Henne plays well for the final six weeks of the season, he’ll go into next season as the starter. Mularkey said he wants every player on his team to know that he’ll be evaluated going forward based on his performance on the field.

There's still a ways to go for Henne to prove himself, but he hasn't exactly been amazing so far. 

Henne appeared to play well in his team's Week 11 matchup against the Houston Texans when he threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns. The issue? He completed only 16 passes, which was less than 50 percent. 

The Jaguars still lost. Four of his 16 passes went for scores, but it was the receivers turning short routes into scores, not Henne throwing an accurate deep ball. 

Henne would improve the week after against the lowly Tennessee Titans, but was again horrendous in Week 13 against the Buffalo Bills when he completed less than 50 percent, completing only 18 of his 41 attempts. 

It's becoming clear with each contest that Henne is afraid to throw the deep ball and instead relies on short routes to cushion his completion percentage and rating.

He's a good game manager, but that won't cut it with the lackluster talent in Jacksonville. 

It's also clear that Henne has essentially reached his peak. There's a reason he never really broke through with the Miami Dolphins after spending the last four seasons there. He was a breath of fresh air for the franchise in Jacksonville, but whether or not he's an upgrade over Gabbert is debatable. 

Outside of his performance, Henne is already 27 years old and has only one more year remaining on his current deal. Rather than riding another mediocre year with Henne under center, Murlakey and Co. would be better off grabbing a top rookie in this year's draft. 

Henne doesn't have long-term potential—he's proven that much over the course of his five-year career. A top rookie such as USC's Matt Barkely has the potential to be a franchise quarterback for years to come. 

Consistently competitive franchises don't pass up on elite talent in the draft in favor of a journeyman quarterback who has flashed big numbers every now and then. 

The best move for Murlarkey and Co. at this point is to keep one of either Henne and Gabbert and give the other walking papers. That way the team can bring in a top rookie talent and either start him if they feel he is ready or have Henne and Gabbert take the snaps while the rookie learns. 

Either way, Murlarkey's strategy cannot simply be sticking with Henne based on a few games while building up the talent around him. He's not a long-term answer, and if the Jaguars attempt to make him one, it'll be more of the same in Jacksonville.