It doesn’t matter that Jacksonville Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey needed a day to decide.
He wound up in the right place, and he didn’t sugarcoat his decision to start quarterback Chad Henne on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans ahead of former starter Blaine Gabbert. And Mulkarey's decision was not solely based on Gabbert's banged up throwing elbow.
“No, that’s not the only issue,” Mularkey told Jacksonville press today. “Chad Henne will start this week for us this Sunday, and that’s based on his performance yesterday. I think Blaine’s injury is still up in the air as still questionable about his strength in that hand from the injury, same as it was yesterday. I’d be cautious to say he has a chance to play this week but Chad (Henne) will start this week.”
The Jaguars could bring John Parker Wilson up off the practice squad to back up Henne if they don’t feel Gabbert will be able to play if needed.
In relief of Gabbert in Houston on Sunday, Henne became just the second quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger to throw for four touchdowns and no interceptions in a substitute role.
He helped Justin Blackmon post the third-most productive receiving day for a rookie in league history, with seven catches for 236 yards and a TD.
I wrote this morning that sticking with Henne was the move Mularkey had to make. His team has generated little offense this season, and coming off a big day it would have made little sense to snuff out the potential for momentum. Tennessee has had all kind of trouble defending the pass this season. With a week to get Blackmon ready, the Jaguars could be in position to play their part in a shootout.
The Titans are 30th overall in defense and 26th in pass defense.
Why did a team that hasn’t blocked well or caught well for Gabbert do both much better for Henne?
“I think we protected well yesterday against that front,” Mularkey said. “I was very proud of those guys. They came in and I thought we were very physical. I think they took a lot of pride in the situation of what we’re in. Whether that have anything to do with who the quarterback was? I think they started out the game the first seven plays play that way, but I was very proud of the way they protected.
“Guys just made plays on the ball when they had a chance. Why did it happen with Chad over Blaine? It did happen though. That’s a good thing. That’s what we wanted to see was progress by our players, and that’s exactly what they did yesterday. They made something happen when we needed it. One of the big emphasis was make something happen. Make it happen. Don’t hope it happens and wish it happens, it was make it happen, and those guys took it to heart.”
Mularkey still counted five drops, three on third downs.