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Henne right for role


JACKSONVILLE – Jedd Fisch hadn't thought about it, and that was OK.

Some things you don't think about, or spend much time analyzing. Some things just "are," and you got a "just-are" feeling this week listening to the Jaguars' second-year offensive coordinator talk about the team's quarterback situation.

"Why will this dynamic work?" Fisch was asked.

"Oh, wow," Fisch replied with a smile.

This was early this week. It was hot, really hot, at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields, and in retrospect perhaps not the best time for broad-topic questions about "dynamics" and locker-room relationships and long-term roles.

It was also, of course, early in Week One of Jaguars 2014 organized team activities, and Fisch – entering his second season as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator – was busy enough fitting new parts into an offensive line with new parts everywhere else on offense that it's understandable he hadn't thought too, too deeply about dynamics of the quarterback room.

A new question, then:

"What about Chad Henne makes the dynamic work?"

And the answer came much, much easier.

"He doesn't have an ego about him," Fisch said.

And, really, that sums up a whole lot about Henne and the Jaguars' quarterback situation this offseason.

Henne, a seventh-year veteran, may not be the Jaguars' quarterback of the future, and in fact he certainly isn't. How long he figures into the Jaguars' plans is anybody's guess, because the NFL is a short-term league and anything more than the season you're about to play can be pretty long-term.

And for the short-term, Henne is in what by any definition is a tricky spot. Anyone around the Jaguars who matters will tell you he is the starting quarterback now, that he will be the starter entering training camp and that he not only probably will start the season as the start but could finish that way, too.

At the same time … well, it's the "at-the-same-time" part that's tricky, because Henne's a professional guy and a driven guy, at the same time he's a smart guy. He knows the future. The Jaguars drafted Blake Bortles No. 3 overall, and Bortles plays quarterback, which means while Bortles isn't the starter now and he may not be the starter this season he's going to be the starter someday, probably no later than September 2015.

That's where the ego part – of lack thereof – comes in. What the Jaguars are asking of Henne this season – and what he has signed on to do – isn't easy, but he knew it was a possibility, and as Fisch and others around the Jaguars see it, Henne is very suited to do it.

"There's a lot there that Chad has to offer and to help us improve as a football team," Fisch said. "On top of that, he's a great worker. He's a great studier. It matters to him. It means a lot to him, and he's willing to mentor. He's willing to show Blake what the expectations are and be there for him."

Fisch then maybe summed Henne up as well as anyone could.

"I think it's very hard to find a character flaw in Chad," he said.

And that's really it, isn't it? That's why you pretty much know this thing will work, and that Henne is the right guy at the right time, and the reason it goes well beyond football. Fisch pointed out a lot of the football stuff this week, that "Chad's a really good football player," that he was a second-round selection by Miami when he came out of college in 2008, that he set records at Michigan and that he has the experience a team wants at quarterback with 50 NFL starts.

"No. 1, Chad's a really good football player," Fisch said. "That's why it was such an easy decision in the offseason to sign Chad back. We feel really good about Chad."

But as much as that, the Jaguars can trust Henne.

They can trust him to be focused on the now, to take an almost zen-like approach to his situation, to getting better, to being The Guy. They can trust him to say the right things, and to do the right things when it comes to leading by example.

Henne has talked often this offseason about leading better, being more assertive, being more comfortable as a leader at the position. It's the stuff a quarterback does when he's the starter, and when talking about it this week, Fisch used the phrase "owning the position." Whereas last season, for example, Henne might have waited for Fisch to say something in practice if something went wrong in a play, Fisch said Henne now is quicker to act – and speak.

"Now that he's really beginning to own the offense and see things at a very, very quick speed he can make the correction before a coach can get there," Fisch said.

Fisch said he's not surprised at that development, and also that he's not surprised with Henne's approach since Bortles was drafted. Just as he worked with Blaine Gabbert whether he or Gabbert were starting in the last two years, Henne has worked with Bortles the last few weeks. And Fisch said there's no question Henne will work with Bortles whatever the capacity. A professional all the way.

"Being around Chad for a year, I'd be surprised if he's anything other than that," Fisch said.

That's what being pro means, and if Henne has been anything in two-plus seasons with the Jaguars, he has been that. So, no, Fisch hadn't thought about the whole Dynamic Question in a lot of detail, and yeah, that was OK.

This one, after all, was a no-brainer.

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