Buying or Selling Chad Henne's Breakout Performance Against Houston

Nick KostoraContributor IIINovember 19, 2012

October 21, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) prepares to throw a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter at Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jaguars 26-23 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
Cary Emondson-US PRESSWIRE

The Blaine Gabbert era in Jacksonville may have come to a swift and merciful end after Chad Henne's emergence against the Houston Texans.

Henne's final stat line has to be seen to be believed:

16-of-33 passing for 354 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Was this simply a random occurrence, or has Henne laid the groundwork for a season full of solid performances?

What is perhaps most encouraging was that the former Michigan Wolverine connected with the top playmakers for the Jaguars early and often. Marcedes Lewis and Justin Blackmon both emerged out of season-long slumbers and showcased their dynamic abilities.

Blackmon had seven catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. Lewis added three catches for 40 yards and two scores of his own. Seeing Blackmon in particular finally look worthy of the No. 5 overall selection was a sight for sore eyes.

Blackmon stretched the field vertically, went into traffic over the middle of the field and gained yards after catches. He was fully invested in the game, as was Lewis, a player Gabbert failed to utilize consistently.

Henne was unafraid to step up into the pocket as defenders blitzed off the edge. He was confident as he looked for Cecil Shorts over the middle of the field time and time again.

Henne knows this offense, and he has an emerging rushing game to help balance out his aerial prowess. Jalen Parmele is a bulldozing-type rusher that can earn tough yards between the tackles and spell Maurice Jones-Drew once he returns from injury.

However, everything is not perfect. Henne flashed brilliance during his time as the Miami Dolphins starter, but was largely ineffective in that role. What would make this situation any different than his previous one?

Henne is smarter with the football and has learned to limit turnovers. Jacksonville's offense is one that will benefit from the ability to sustain long drives and not rely on quick-hitting touchdown strikes. A confident and accurate Henne is the first step towards that goal.

One of the biggest criticisms of Gabbert is his ineffectiveness on third down and the way he fails to handle pressure inside the pocket. These are problems that will not arise with Henne under center.


Verdict: Tentative Buy

It will be easy for the Jaguars to get excited after Henne's performance, and that excitement is justified. However, expectations must also be managed. This is just one game, and Henne will have to prove himself over the course of this season to lay claim to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart for the future.

The early signs are good, but the body of work needs to be expanded before making a full investment.