It’s true that any player on an NFL field is among the best in the world at the game of football. That includes Chad Henne. The Jags quarterback is in his seventh year now, having been drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round, and he’s always looked almost good enough.
The Jags thought so when they brought him back this year to be a veteran bridge between the dumpster fire that was Blaine Gabbert and the certain Valhalla that the Blake Bortles epoch will be. But no one has really been sold on Henne since he got here — and Sunday’s loss in Washington won’t silence the doubters.
The Jaguars managed to put together a full half of competence in Philadelphia, but all they managed to do in the first half against the Washington Racistnames — yes, the team’s official name is a racial slur; no, we will not print it — was injure a couple of superstars. Get well soon, RGIII and D-Jax. The funny thing was that when RGIII was in, struggling with this year’s offense, Washington looked almost as bad as the Jags. Once he was replaced by Kirk Cousins, however, and the offense was executed more efficiently, the Jaguars went from being exposed on offense to being exposed on both sides of the ball.
Given the 10 sacks the Jags allowed, there clearly were plenty of occasions when Henne didn’t have any time in the pocket. The interior line has been a liability since the preseason, and likely will be 14 more times to come. Even when Henne did have time in the pocket, however, he looked tentative making reads downfield. He tends, even this late in his career, to lock in on receivers — and he made the Washington defense look like a top-five unit. Which it isn’t. At all.
Well before halftime, the Jags looked like a beaten team — worn out and demoralized on a 68-degree day in Landover. There were a couple of nice moments in the second half, but overall the Jags looked ragged and ragtag. Which raises the real question: How long before we get Bortles?
What is Bortles learning from watching Henne peel himself off the turf time and time again? It would be one thing if this apprenticeship were under a quarterback with one professional success worth remembering. But Henne isn’t that guy. Bortles is learning how to lose. The stench of a losing culture still hangs over EverBank Field, new scoreboards notwithstanding.
What happens if Henne starts next Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts? How long a leash do the fans give him? What if the game is over by halftime and the stands empty as if left unmanned by the Rapture? We’ve seen that hot mess before. It was the Gabbert era. It was the Matt Jones and Reggie Williams era. Jacksonville has more than met this franchise halfway. The Jags got their new scoreboards. Now it’s time for the team to do its part and make them light up — something that will not happen so long as Henne is behind center.