Chad Henne: What Breakout Performance Means for Jaguars

Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 18, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 30:  Chad Henne #7 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to pass during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field on August 30, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

When starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert went down during Jacksonville's Week 11 clash with the Houston Texans, what has been a difficult season for Jaguars fans looked like it'd gotten a little bit worse. 

And then Chad Henne entered the game. 

Henne, the former Miami Dolphins signal-caller, led the Jaguars on arguably their most dominant offensive stretch of the season, as he keyed the Jags to three straight scoring drives and did more than enough to raise eyebrows with regard to who should be Jacksonville's starter once Gabbert is healthy. 

As Sports Illustrated pointed out during the game, Gabbert's No. 1 job may not be as secure as it was prior to Week 11: 

Henne’s play against the Texans could really open the door on a controversy in Jacksonville, especially if the Jaguars somehow pull out an upset. Gabbert was the franchise’s first-round pick in 2011, at No. 10, and he was a starter immediately, with the Jaguars hoping that he could develop rapidly.

However, with minimal help from the pieces around him, he’s struggled to take the next step — a problem made all the more frustrating by the success of several young quarterbacks, league-wide.

With Jacksonville headed toward another high draft pick (possibly No. 1 overall), the temptation will be there to roll the dice on another quarterback. Henne, 0-4 last season with Miami and 13-18 in his career, is just 27 years old, meaning that he too could figure somehow into the Jaguars’ future plans.

The Jaguars have stuck by Gabbert’s side throughout his first two seasons thus far. Sunday’s surprising turn of events might force them to reconsider.

Going forward, it'd be ludicrous to say that Gabbert is no longer considered to be the franchise's quarterback of the future, but Henne's play against one of the league's best teams certainly made more than enough noise for the Jags to wonder if he's the team's best option in the present. 

Prior to this week, Henne played reasonably well against the Colts in his last cameo, and if he continues to impress when he does get the opportunity to play, he'll make things harder for the Jags coaching staff to keep him on the sidelines. 

Throwing three touchdowns and over 250 yards isn't something that's been commonplace for Jaguars quarterbacks lately, especially against an elite opponent like the Texans, so Jacksonville has no choice but to consider whether Henne should be the team's starter for the rest of the season.