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Right guy, right time

Posted Jul 27, 2014

Editorial: Chad Henne taking advantage of opportunity in 2014 Training Camp – and he’s exactly the quarterback the Jaguars need right now.


JACKSONVILLE – Chad Henne’s liking this, as well he should.

The seven-year veteran has worked much of his career to be the No. 1 quarterback entering an NFL season, and even if he’s not the long-term guy around the Jaguars, he’s the guy for now.

He’s experienced, and has a year in the offense.

And that makes Henne’s current situation a good one as far as he sees it.

“(I’m) taking every opportunity that I’ve gotten and I’m headed full force ahead and I’m never looking back,” Henne said Sunday.

That approach? His demeanor? Those are just two of the reasons Henne is the perfect guy to be the Jaguars’ quarterback entering 2014, and make no mistake:

Right now he’s the right guy.


His situation is a temporary one. Make no mistake about that, either. Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, is the backup quarterback and Henne is the starter. That’s how it is now and how it will almost certainly be when the regular season opens. And you can pretty much look for that to remain that way for a while.

But what is a while? Does it mean a month? A half season? A year?

The only real answer is, “We shall see,” because no one knows yet. As much as observers want an answer NOW – and as well as Bortles has played at times early in camp – this thing is playing out in real time. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell late last week said when Bortles becomes the starter will depend on Bortles’ maturity and the team’s maturity.

Missing in that equation is anything about Henne, and that’s Henne’s faces – that while he certainly can lengthen his time as the starter by playing well, he can’t lengthen it forever. At some point in the not-too-distant future Bortles will start.

And here’s why Henne is the right guy …

Here’s why the Jaguars signed him to a two-year extension this past offseason …

Because he can handle it. And more accurately, because Henne can pretty much handle whatever role the Jaguars give him.

His role now: To provide leadership. To provide stability. To be a veteran.

And to hear Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley tell it, he’s doing it all.

“He’s been awesome, awesome,” Bradley said Sunday. “I know his completion percentage is up there in the 70 percent (range). He’s just really solid, really good, mastery – that’s a good word for him. He just feels really comfortable.”


Bradley went on to say that Henne has been great for Bortles, and great for veteran Ricky Stanzi, too. The quarterback room is working together, and that’s good for the Jaguars.

Not that Bradley doesn’t like what Henne’s doing on the field.

“What I like is he’s taking chances,” Bradley said, meaning that Henne is giving players such as tight end Marcedes Lewis and rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson – two of the early standouts of camp – the opportunity to make plays on the ball.

That sometimes requires the “chance” throw, something that’s not easy for less-experienced, less-confident quarterbacks.

“He’s giving the guy a chance,” Bradley said. “It might be incomplete, and it happens. But I see him make those chances and they’re calculated chances. We just want him to continue with that mindset.”

Henne, for his part, remains almost Zen-like in his approach. When he says he’s just trying to get better every day, it doesn’t sound like a cliché as much as like what he’s really trying to do. Just as when he says he’s not worried about the future, it’s believable, too.


Henne on Sunday spent most of his conversation with the media talking about young receivers such as second-round rookies Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. He is impressed with both players, and says each seems well ahead of where rookie wide receivers normally would be right now.

Robinson’s size and athleticism is impressive, he said, and he said Lee has special ability in route running and an ability to feel routes unusual for a young player.

“It’s almost like a five-to-ten-year vet the way he is with choice routes or if he’s one-on-one,” Henne said of Lee. “If the guy flies outside, he just sits down instead of just running out underneath him. It’s really good stuff. We have to keep working with him and keep encouraging him and I think he’s going to do some good things.”

Henne admitted Sunday that at times he looks at his younger teammates and says, “Whoa, I’m old.” But he said that feeling isn’t as prominent as a feeling that he is at a very good time in his career.

“I feel good where I’m at, kind of hitting my prime,” he said.

As important for the Jaguars is that as Henne hits that prime he does so with perspective. He has seen a lot in six NFL seasons. He knows quarterbacks play many roles, and he knows his is to improve personally while helping develop not only young receivers and the rest of a strikingly young offense, but the quarterback who eventually will take his job.

“If I can guide these guys around and help them out, it’ll just accelerate their play on the field,” he said. “That’s my job to do.”

Henne said if he fails at that, “it’s my own fault,” but when it comes to leadership, it’s hard to imagine failure for guy who very much seems the right quarterback for the Jaguars right now.

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