Mark Brunell: Chad Henne should be Jaguars' starting QB

Quarterback competition isn't over, but Henne would be Brunell's pick

By Mark Brunell, News4Jax Jaguars analyst
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Doug Marrone made it clear Thursday night in his post-game news conference that he will consider giving Chad Henne and Blake Bortles reps in the final preseason game against the Falcons.

What does this mean? It means this quarterback competition is not over. 

Most members of the media, including myself, believed this would be the final evaluation to determine the opening-day starter against the Texans. Looks like we might have been wrong.

One thing is for sure: This will not be an easy decision. 

OPPOSING VIEWPOINT: Sam Kouvaris says Jags should roll the dice, start Bortles

The best analysis of the quarterback play that I heard Thursday night was from Fred Taylor. He said, “Chad played like Chad, and Blake played like Blake.” He nailed it.

Henne managed the game well and made good decisions, but probably didn’t do very much to solidify himself as the starter for most people. Bortles, on the other hand, had some good plays, but once again had a critical turnover that cost the team.

So let me try to answer the question on the mind of every Jaguars fan: If you had to decide who gets the nod on opening day, who is your choice?

My choice after Thursday would be Henne. Please allow me to explain by saying this isn’t personal. I have a lot of respect for both players. Both are great guys. They work hard; they are both professionals who are absolutely doing their best to lead the team. But I believe Henne gives the Jaguars the best chance to win. 

Let's look at why.

Playing QB in the NFL is primarily about one thing: taking care of the ball. Sure, being a leader, having good fundamentals, having the ability to make all the throws is important. But you have to be able to trust your QB to make good decisions and not give the ball away. Turnovers lose ballgames. It's that simple. I trust Chad Henne with the ball more than I trust Bortles. Period. 

Sure, Bortles is more athletic, mobile and has the ability to extend plays outside the pocket. He can get you more big plays with his legs than Henne. However, Bortles has a propensity to throw interceptions and fumble the football. We’ve seen it.

Henne wasn’t overly impressive Thursday. He had a good scramble and a nice long completion to Allen Robinson. More than anything, he managed the game well, considering he was sacked three times and was put in some long third-down situations. There weren’t any really poor decisions -- some poor throws, but not any poor decisions. That’s what I want to see at QB.

Aside from the costly interception, Bortles did some good things -- some nice drives, nice completions and nice throws outside the pocket. And, of course, the well-thrown touchdown pass to Shane Wynn. But you have to remember that all of that was against the Carolina Panthers' second-team defense. That is an important part of this evaluation process.

Again, Doug Marrone was clear that a starter will not be named right away, and this is certainly not an easy decision for him. But if it was my choice, and I had to make it right now, Henne is my guy. Honestly, I will be surprised if I’m wrong. Perhaps the final preseason game will make this decision easy, one way or another. 

I just get the feeling that on opening day we’ll see No. 7 behind the center on Sept. 10 against the Texans. 

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