Friday, February 7, 2014
MVP replacements: Jacksonville Jaguars
By Michael DiRocco
Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.
So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.
He doesn’t put up big numbers and has his limitations, but quarterback Chad Henne is the MVP of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Henne started 13 games this past season and threw for 3,421 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, although he had nine TD passes and five interceptions in the final five games. Henne obviously didn’t tear it up, but he did bring stability to the offense and rarely put the team in a bad position.
He also wasn’t exactly working with elite weapons, either. He lost his best receiver (Justin Blackmon) to an indefinite suspension, didn’t get much from tight end Marcedes Lewis until the last month, and then lost his second-best receiver (Cecil Shorts) for the final three weeks because of an injury.
Henne’s contract expires in March, but the Jaguars want him back and Henne said he’d like to return. It’s critical that he does, because Blaine Gabbert has not developed into the franchise quarterback the team hoped he would be after they traded up to select him with the No. 10 overall pick in 2011. Gabbert won the starting job in training camp, but was miserable in his three starts, throwing seven interceptions and just one touchdown pass.
The Jaguars are almost certainly going to draft a quarterback in May, and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and head coach Gus Bradley would like to have someone experienced with the offense to mentor the young QB and be the starter if needed. Ideally, that would be Henne, who is a better fit for that role than Gabbert.
That depends on whether the Jaguars can work out an extension for Henne before he becomes a free agent, or convince him to return after he has tested the market. If not, then the Jaguars will start Gabbert, a free agent, or a rookie in 2014. That is not the kind of continuity the franchise needs.
Potential pick:Teddy Bridgewater*, QB, Louisville, or Blake Bortles*, QB, Central Florida
On film, Bridgewater is crisper with his reads and his footwork. The concern with him is his lean frame and how it relates to his durability more than anything else. At 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, Bortles is built to handle the abuse quarterbacks take at the next level, and he’s an above-average pocket passer. Both are mobile enough to buy time and scramble for yards. Assuming Houston drafts one, the Jaguars would do well to land the other. They will have a tough choice to make if both are on the board when they pick at No. 3.
-- Steve Muench