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Breaking Down Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts' Rise with Chad Henne at QB

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25:  Cecil Shorts III #84 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates following a touchdown during the game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on November 25, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent INovember 25, 2012

This wasn't the way it was originally written. Yet, here's betting that the Jacksonville Jaguars fans don't care.

After the past two games, the Jags actually have relevant fantasy players in Chad Henne, Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III. Considering how long Maurice Jones-Drew has been out, the fans needed something, badly, to hang their hat on.

But what happened? Why is the new passing trio performing so much better than the old one?

 

 

Put Some Air Under That

One particular answer is incredibly easy. Henne throws it much further down the field on a typical play. 

The best example is the crazy numbers he put up against the Houston Texans. Despite only completing 48.5 percent of his passes, he still averaged an insane 10.73 yards per attempt. 

Truly think about those numbers. Less than half of the passes he threw actually accounted for yards, yet he still put up a number north of 10.

To put that in perspective, Robert Griffin III leads the league in this particular category with 8.21 yards per attempt. Granted, we are talking about one game versus a whole season, but Henne also averaged 10.04 yards against the Titans. Another game like this and we have a trend.

 

 

Two Words: Catch and Run

Yet, there's more to this short-term success than just chucking the ball deep. It's borderline impossible to maintain such an average over two games by only throwing deep passes.

Give NFL defensive coordinators a little more respect than that.

Thus, in order to get so many yards per attempt, a quarterback must set up his pass-catchers to run after the catch.

Check out the highlight package from Jacksonville's win over the Tennessee Titans.

You'll see that most of Henne's throws are down the field. He's not abandoning his progression and just checking down to whoever is in the flat. But the important part here is that he's flinging the ball downfield in front his receivers, thus setting them up for yards after the catch.

Even on the short slant that only goes five yards or so past the line of scrimmage, you'll see that the receiver is led perfectly so he can catch it in stride and get up the field.

 

 

The Receivers are Pretty Good

Lastly, Shorts and Blackmon are explosive and talented players. While the Shorts revelation is a surprise, Blackmon was a high first-round pick.

These guys are no longer playing with the risk-averse Blaine Gabbert. He, of the 5.98 average, lacked the gumption (or skill?) to fling it downfield and put the ball in a place where his receivers could do some damage. More than likely, he was so consumed with not failing that he forgot to play.

 

 

Fun in the Sun

And that may be the biggest difference between these two quarterbacks. Henne came in with nothing to lose. After years of his own failures as the franchise guy, he can relax, have fun and throw the ball with impunity.

He could likely always find work as a backup quarterback, so why not air it out?

Well, it's worked. And now, Gabbert may be the one looking for work soon.

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