Jaguars Off-Season Analysis: Quarterbacks

Gabbert Henne Fisch minicamp
Jaguars quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch (right).

by Cole Pepper

There is no one position that has been under more scrutiny in Jacksonville for the last decade than quarterback.

While that statement may be true for most losing teams (and some winning teams, too), the Jaguars don’t appear to be any closer to knowing if they have the guy or not. That may be good.

It’s roundly agreed that this is Blaine Gabbert’s last chance to prove himself in Jacksonville. Is three years enough time to show if you are a franchise quarterback? Maybe. It’s certainly enough time to show that you aren’t and Gabbert hasn’t shown enough in his first two years to merit the benefit of the doubt. However, his physical skills merit another chance.

He’s being given that chance this year. While everyone says he is competing with Chad Henne for the starting quarterback spot, all indications are that Henne will have to clearly outplay Gabbert to get the job. Both quarterbacks are downplaying the competition and seem to be reading from the same talking points when it comes to their approach.

“The competition brings out the best in all of us,” Gabbert said. “There’s competition every year, whether it’s said or not. You have to earn your pay every day.”

Henne, echoing the same sentiment, and the same approach that is being preached by new head coach Gus Bradley, says he’s using himself as the barometer for improvement.

“I just try to go out there every day and compete against myself, rather than against other quarterbacks who are here,” Henne said. “Just trying to get better everyday, improving on my craft instead of worrying about somebody else.”

The Jaguars have three other quarterbacks in camp. Rookies Matt Scott (Arizona) and Jordan Rodgers (Vanderbilt and the brother of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers), and recently signed Mike Kafka.

That’s a lot of arms. Bradley said during mini-camp that he wouldn’t rule out taking all five to training camp, but I can’t imagine all five being around for long. It would take away too many snaps from the quarterbacks (especially Gabbert and Henne) who are not only competing for the starting spot, but also learning a new offense.

So why bring in Kafka? Will the Jaguars carry three quarterbacks on the active roster? Not likely. I think its more likely that the Jaguars carry two with a rookie on the practice squad. I’m looking at the competition this way: Gabbert vs. Henne, winner is the starter. If Henne wins, there is a chance that Kafka stays as the backup and the Jaguars move Gabbert. If Gabbert wins, I would suspect that Henne would be the #2, unless Kafka just lights it up in the preseason. The other battle is between the rookies for a practice squad spot, Scott vs. Rodgers. So far, Rodgers has missed time in the off-season with a sports hernia, while Scott has flashed at times, including Wednesday at mini-camp.

With all of the unknowns at quarterback for the Jaguars, we can safely say this: this time next year, the Jaguars will know who their quarterback of the future is. It will either be Gabbert or almost certainly someone they draft next April.


4 thoughts on “Jaguars Off-Season Analysis: Quarterbacks”

  1. If Gabbert wins, Kafka may only have to prove that he’s not worse than Henne. Three million dollars is expensive for a back-up.

    1. In most cases, I would agree, but I think that even if Gabbert wins the job, you have to wonder how confident Caldwell and Bradley can be in a guy who has struggled so much in his first two years. The Jaguars aren’t in a bad spot re: the salary cap, so I don’t think that will be the major factor in the decision.

  2. Good point. It will all come down to how/where Caldwell wants to use Shad’s money.

    One of the things that I’m enjoying about this off-season is that we still don’t have a good enough feel for Caldwell for him to be predictable yet.

  3. If the Jaguars start Gabbert, then they need to hire yet another new personnel guy. Because Gabbert has demonstrated enough to most analysts I have heard, this couch analyst included, to merit his status at BEST as back-up or a third stringer, or nothing. If the jags are just going to ignore what seems obvious, that Gabbert has all the physical attributes to be a fantastic NFL qb, and none of the mental/toughness attributes, then why did they draft all these qb’s? It doesn’t matter how great your arm is or how big and strong you are if you won’t stand tall and throw. How about not wasting Kafka’s snaps on Gabbert? The Jags let Leftwich go way too long, wasted some of what should have been Garrard’s best years on the bench. Let’s not waste any more time on one of the worst first round picks in history. From the evidence on the field of play, it would appear Gabbert himself would prefer to be watching from the bench more than running around looking for a place to slide with his back turned to his recievers. I know this comment won’t be popular…but Jags fans, it’s time to move on. Past time.

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