When the Jaguars selected Blake Bortles with the third-overall pick in May’s NFL Draft, the writing was on the wall for incumbent starter Chad Henne. Regardless of what the front office said publicly, he was going to lose his job. The only question would be how effective he and the team would be and wins were the only thing that would keep him as the starter.
In three weeks the Jaguars have been outscored by 75 points.
Frustration came to a head in the first half of Sunday's 44-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Henne had engineered the team to exactly one first down in the first half and was booed mightily coming off the field. The defense was playing awful and the entire team couldn't get out of their own way. There was simply no way that Gus Bradley could have trotted Chad Henne out to take snaps in the second half.
So the Jaguars turned another page in the franchise's history and raised the green flag on the Blake Bortles era. Bortles made plays, and made mistakes, but he threw the football down the field and didn't stand in the pocket and wait to get sacked. The crowd responded and the team responded and although the final score read 44-17, the Jaguars outscored Indianapolis 17-15 in the second half with Bortles and the entire stadium showed a sign of life that has been missing for years.
"I think it’s no coincidence that all of a sudden we blocked a little bit better, the receivers played a little bit better and he has a way to uplift people and uplift the team," Gus Bradley said of his team in the second half after the quarterback switch was made. "It’s still not good enough and still not good enough as a team where we need to be. We’ve got to use this momentum, the little bit that we had in the second half, we have to build on that and it will be a challenge for the whole team.”
Henne didn’t cause any distractions and likely won’t. He’s a true professional and he knows the score. He knew this was on the table.
“First of all I want to make this point known that Chad Henne is a first-class individual,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said yesterday in his postgame press conference. “I think how he handled this whole situation, he was in a challenging situation, but how he handled it I cannot tell you how much respect and admiration I have for him as a person how he’s handled this. It’s truly top notch.”
Chad Henne’s lack of pocket presence, accuracy and overall ability led the Jaguars to draft Blake Bortles. Henne was not going to magically get better with a poor team around him and now the majority of a fanbase calling for his head.
“I think to come to this decision was instincts,” Bradley explained. “I think that I felt like in my conversations with Chad and Blake I felt like as the week went on it felt clear to me that Blake’s body of work as far as in practice, mentality, all those things that we wanted to challenge him on from OTAs to now I felt like was in a pretty good place. I just felt like he was ready for his body of work to begin on the field, and that’s what I told Chad; ‘we’ll see when it happens. I don’t know if it’s this game but if there’s an opportunity that presents itself, he may be doing some good things but if we feel we need it as a team we’re going to make the change,’ and it happened in the second half. I appreciate how Chad handled it."
Talent always wins out. Anyone who saw the Jaguars in practice and especially in preseason saw that rookie Blake Bortles was a better football player. Henne’s body of work in his career wasn’t enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, and general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley’s loyalty to Henne was admirable, but unfounded.
Again, Chad Henne isn’t the sole reason why the Jaguars haven’t been competitive during the first three weeks of the season. He shouldn’t be made the scapegoat either. But talent wins out and Henne doesn’t have the talent to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League.
This quarterback change was something that needed to happen sooner rather than later, and it feels like the Jaguars wasted two and a half games of a 16-game season.
Henne's Time Was Up
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