Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone has never seen Chad Henne start a game but that will change when the Jags take on the Panthers at EverBank Field on Thursday.
After nearly a week of speculation and hankering over the decision, the Jaguars announced on Wednesday that Henne will replace Blake Bortles as their starter. At least for this game.
It was the right move for Marrone, who threatened to lose his locker room and maybe more if he opted to stick with Bortles, who has easily been the team’s weakest performer at the position this preseason.
Bortles, who suffered through a massive regression in terms of form and effectiveness last year, has produced a miserable 71.8 passer rating as the Jaguar starter this preseason.
Henne has been nearly twice as good, completing 11 of 16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown while producing a promising 127.9 passer rating to earn a chance to prove he can run the Jags offense.
Bortles will get that chance, too, though. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars are expected to give both quarterbacks time with the first-team offense, which suggest they’re in a bit of a playoff.
“I try to look at it to see which one of the guys is going to go out there and take (the job),’’ Marrone said. “I’m looking for the guy at that position who can really go out there and lead our team.’’
The Jaguars hope is that they’ll get an answer on that as soon as Thursday night but don’t be surprised if, just as he did in naming a starter, Marrone takes his time determining a winner.
“I don’t like to make quick decisions,’’ said Marrone. “So we’ll see how it goes. As far as what they did in practice this week, no one really hurt themselves. Now it’s a matter of what happens in the game.’’
For almost a week now it seems this has been Henne’s job to lose and he could still do that with a bad performance against the Panthers, which is quite possible.
Henne has played 65 games in the NFL, starting 53 of them. Across that span he has completed just 59-percent of his passes and produced a passer rating of 75.5.
There’s nothing special in that and certainly nothing that suggests he is ready to lead a team to the playoffs, but hey, there’s nothing to suggest Bortles is ready to that either.