I was part of a Nashville media conference call with Chad Henne late this morning, during which he told us he hoped to play well Sunday against the Titans and earn the job for the rest of the season.
He might have known it already, but we saw John Clayton’s tweet that Blaine Gabbert had been placed on IR before Henne hung up and told him that and that he was in fact in line to start the rest of the season.
A bit later, coach Mike Mularkey said that while Gabbert’s new injury, to his right forearm, won’t require surgery, the left shoulder injury he initially suffered Oct. 21 at Oakland might.
The new injury to Gabbert is "significant enough for him to miss considerable time,” Mularkey said. That plus the lingering shoulder issue prompted the team to make the IR move. The team also put receiver Laurent Robinson on IR. The Jaguars signed Jordan Palmer to serve as Gabbert’s backup, and added receiver Carlton Mitchell.
Ten games was enough for a judgment on Gabbert in Mularkey’s offense. He was better than in a very bad rookie year, but not better enough. When he’s next in line to play, the Jaguars could have a new front office, and if they do, they could also have a new coaching staff. He could face new competition for the job.
Henne guarantees no drastic improvement. But he provided a big spark Sunday, in his second relief effort of the season, throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 43-37 overtime loss at Houston.
He placed the ball better and found a rhythm with a heavy dose of three-step drop passing that effectively minimized the team’s consistent protection issues.
For the Jaguars to break into the win column Sunday against the Titans at EverBank Field, Henne will have to do more of the same.
He’ll also need his receivers to hold on to the ball better. Mularkey said his team has dropped 46 passes this season, including five in Houston, three on third down.
Whether or not GM Gene Smith and Mularkey are still in place and calling the shots next summer, what Henne does in the next six games will go a long way toward determining his standing for the 2013 Jaguars.