By: Eric Serna
I know right now it doesn’t feel like it, but Week 1 of the NFL season is right around the corner. And even with that said, the Jacksonville Jaguars are no closer to having a starter set for the preseason, let alone the regular season. Going into training camp, this is where everything starts to get serious. Slowly but surely, we will see which quarterback will be able to separate themselves as the clear cut starter of the new look Jaguars. I have hope that this year’s group of quarterbacks will have more to offer then in years past, and we are here to take a look at who is going to make the cut.
Blaine Gabbert – Like everyone else on that fateful day when the Jaguars traded up in the 2011 NFL Draft to pick up Blaine Gabbert as our QB of the future, I was floored with excitement. All that was running through my mind in that moment is this guy was projected to go number one overall and we got a steal at the 10th pick. But I didn’t even make it to the next day with the same enthusiasm, getting home after the draft and started to look into his overall game. I was overwhelmed at how weak that class was for Gabbert to be considered with the first pick at all. He was never really THAT impressive at Missouri, and grabbing someone so young was a project that was going to take a lot of time. Now in Year 3, something either needs to click, or a divorce between Gabbert and the Jags must take place. Even though there has been a lot of “Blame Gabbert” detractors, the staff over time (who have come and gone) support him publicly, now even with new OC Jedd Fisch. I have heard the negatives and positives. He is too fragile, deflects blame, immature. He is smart, a leader, hardworking. He is the one of the worst starting QB’s in the league, but with time in the pocket he was a top tier QB. When he came into the league he was a just kid (with long locks that topped Tom Brady’s as the most ridiculous amount of hair for a NFL player). He needs to show his 3 year NFL experience and now that he looks the part, we as fans deserve to find out THIS year which Blaine Gabbert we are going to get.
Chad Henne – Here is a prime example of a make or break career. At age 28 years young (or old in this NFL era), this year will prove to be the start for Henne as a legit NFL starter or as a career backup QB. He has the arm to be able to make NFL throws, even though his throwing motion could be better. The knock on Henne for me is that he hasn’t had a season in Miami or Jacksonville with more touchdowns then interceptions. He is essentially a very poor man’s Tony Romo: take all of Romo’s flaws and add them to Henne, who is already nowhere close as far as talent or even athleticism (which says a lot). He hasn’t won big games when given the chance, and his decision-making can be VERY questionable at best. Yet this same person has the same chance as anyone to win the starting QB job. That alone should tell you this is a weak QB crop, but I disagree. I believe anyone can win this job because of the uncertainty surrounding this team and the position, not necessarily the lack of talent. Unlike his main competition Gabbert, I liked Henne coming out of college a lot more then most. If he can build from his experience and use it to win the starting job, he may be able to hold on to the job for the entire year.
Matt Scott – Let me first start off by saying this was a steal signing. After being benched for now NFL player Nick Foles (who was a better fit for then OC Sonny Dykes pass heavy offense), Scott was able to get his chance to shine. Rich Rodriquez had the perfect QB for his system, which lead to a season in which Scott performed exceptionally. Throwing for 3620 yards with a 27-14 TD to INT ratio and 506 rushing yards with 6 TD’s, a lot of people had Matt Scott going to the Jaguars as high as the 3rd round. But after further evaluations, most teams viewed him strictly as a developmental project not worth a draft pick and ended up not being drafted. Then the Jaguars came and swooped in and picked him up. Now here we are a month after Jedd Fisch stated that Matt Scott was no where close to being in the running to start. Why is he even on this list then? Well…..because anyone can win this QB job. And I think if he can hold a spot on this team, come game time with some snaps in the preseason, he can show enough to garner some type of attention and possibly come out of nowhere to play some snaps in the regular season as well. If last year showed anything, it’s that Matt Scott has the talent to make some plays with his arm, and his feet.
Jordan Rodgers – As I mentioned above, anyone can win the QB job this year. But if there is one odd man out in this competition, it is Rodgers. The younger brother of NFL elite Aaron Rodgers (who looks almost exactly like a younger version but with a contained copy of Gabbert’s rookie year hair…..ugh) has a long road to travel to even make the team after missing all of rookie minicamp and OTA’s with a groin injury. After two unimpressive years playing at Vanderbilt, he now has an opportunity to earn a spot on this roster. And maybe over time like his brother, he will become a star in this league. The odds are stacked against him, but that last name will carry him onto enough rosters to give him a fighting chance.
Mike Kafka – I am still not sure about this “buzz” for Kafka having almost an equal opportunity to win the starting job. As another add on the joke that Bill Belichick is creating a second team with all the Patriots cast-offs that were getting signed left and right by the Jags, Kafka is on his 3rd NFL team in as many years. Despite the decent size (6’3 225lbs) and his young age (25), has not shown anything special as an quarterback at any level of the game. His career at Northwestern was uneven and overrated, and has yet to show he can handle the transition to the NFL game. Despite praise during his time in Philadelphia for his intelligence and grasp for the game, it has not shown on the field. But still there is talk that Kafka can have a good showing in training camp and even win the starting QB job.
SO……what is my Final verdict on these quarterbacks?
I think that Blaine Gabbert will start Week 1, but will lose the job at some point in the year. At which time both Matt Scott and/or Chad Henne could play out the rest of the season. Jordan Rodgers unfortunately will not be able to bounce back from the injury that took out valuable time to learn and play with his teammates to be close for the starting job, but may end up on the practice squad. Mike Kafka will work to impress the coaching staff, but will be a training camp body at that end of the day that won’t make the roster. The Jaguars go into the preseason with four QB’s, start Week 1 with three. I think after this year Gabbert will end up being more of an Alex Smith type of player, and on another team in 2014. Henne will probably take over first this season and then lose snaps to Scott to see what he can do in game time situations. Henne will end up being more of a Jon Kitna type of player, although I can see him on this team past this season. That is my prediction, vote above and let me know your opinion in the comment section below!