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Better Know the Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars

A look ahead at this week's Jets foe



    Better Know the Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars
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    A chance to see how the other half lives.

    If you're up for a good game of "What If?" you might want to try Chad Henne's offseason decision on for size.

    With the Jaguars on the schedule for the Jets this weekend, the Jets' flirtation with Henne during free agency during the offseason has been fodder for conversation. According to Henne, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who coached him in Miami, was aggressive in courting him to come to the Jets as Mark Sanchez's backup. 

    Henne opted to sign in Jacksonville, which has worked out well for him because Blaine Gabbert showed that last year's struggles weren't rookie growing pains as much as a lack of fitness for battle. Henne's now starting, Gabbert's on injured reserve and the Jaguars offense has looked fairly competent for the first time in two years thanks to his play.  

    Imagine, though, if he had decided to come to the Jets instead. No Tim Tebow, none of the distractions that he brought with him from Denver and, most likely, a shorter leash for Sanchez when he struggled early in the season because there would actually be a backup that the team trusts. 

    We don't want to go too far and say that the Jets season would have been significantly different in terms of wins and losses. The problems go far beyond Sanchez and it's not like Henne has been the second coming of Dan Marino in his career to date. 

    It would have been a real option, though, and it would have meant that the team was going into the season with an actual plan instead of just saying they had one while making it clear they were operating without a script. Maybe Henne sells fewer jerseys, but he's an NFL quarterback and the Jets needed that a lot more than a guy who mostly exists to spur debates. 

    The funniest part of the whole thing is that Henne signing with the Jets would almost certainly have led Tebow to the Jaguars when the Broncos decided to trade him. It is his hometown, the team struggles to fill their stadium and they wanted him when the Jets wound up trading for him. 

    Tebow chose the Jets, Henne chose the Jaguars and both teams are racing for the top of the draft. Could things have been different?

    We'll never know, but here's a look at some of the folks who join Henne on the Jacksonville roster, starting with one who won't actually be around to help him try to beat the Jets.

    MJD MIA - The problems with the Jaguars are broad enough that having Maurice Jones-Drew probably wouldn't have meant a much better record, but the team would certainly be a lot more fun to watch on a weekly basis. After holding out before the season and missing almost all of it with a foot injury, it's fair to wonder if we've seen the last of MJD in Jacksonville.

    Hope Through the Air - They might still find themselves in need of a quarterback, but the Jaguars seem to have found a pair of receivers. Justin Blackmon's rookie year has been choppy with just enough bright moments and Cecil Shorts has put up numbers that look good even without the qualification "for the Jaguars." Of course, he suffered a concussion last weekend and might not play because 2-11 teams don't get there thanks to good luck. 

    New Start - Defensive end Jason Babin had 18 sacks for the Eagles last year before, like the rest of the Eagles, slumping into oblivion this season. He got cut, the Jaguars took a chance and we'll find out if he's able to write a second act for his career out of the Wide-9 scheme that helped him pick up a good portion of those sacks.

    Bad Deals - When you look at the salaries of players on the Jaguars roster, it makes perfect sense why they are 2-10. They gave big deals to players like wide receiver Laurent Robinson and kicker Josh Scobee, even though cheap alternatives abound at both spots, and extended tight end Marcedes Lewis off a year with a lot of touchdowns that was clearly an outlier. General manager Gene Smith hasn't drafted particularly well, either, which may mean that change comes to Jacksonville this offseason.

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.