Patrick Mahomes is the apparent heir to the Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback throne. After shipping off Alex Smith to Washington in the off season it became clear that the young Texas Tech gunslinger was ready to step up to a starting role at KC. However, as ready as he may seem, no one can predict what’s going to happen once the season gets started. What if Mahomes takes a bad fall in his first ever snap in the 2018 season and breaks his leg? Or tears his ACL? Or worse…
Of course this would be a worse case scenario (and make sure you touch wood after reading that last sentence if you’re a believer in that sort of thing) but it’s still something that needs to be considered. So, in this nightmare situation, who’s the Chiefs’ go-to guy and how confidently can we rely on him?
Well, his name’s Chad Henne and I’m about to answer the second part of that question right now. Let’s delve in.
Chad was a Michigan QB who started every game since being a freshman which, off the bat, is fairly impressive. His TD/INT ratio was 87/37 with a completion percentage of 59.7%. Again, these stats look sturdy for an NFL prospect. He even led his Michigan team to a 41-35 victory against the Florida Gators in the 2008 ‘Capital One’ Bowl (now called the Citrus Bowl) bumping up his stock as a QB even more.
When draft day came he was picked as a late second rounder (57th overall) to the Miami Dolphins. This made him the fourth QB to be selected that year (Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Brian Brohm were called before him).
So how did his NFL career pan out in comparison to his noteworthy college stretch? Hm, not great. In his four year stint in Miami, Henne only had two notable seasons in 2009 and 2010 replacing the injured starter Chad Pennington. He threw for a total of 27 touchdowns and a catastrophic 33 interceptions during this two year period, although he did also rack up a 61% completion percentage too. Finishing his time at the Dolphins with a win percentage of 41.9%, Henne was sent to Jacksonville to continue his career.
Sitting behind young hopeful Blaine Gabbert in his first season at the Jags in 2012 he still started 6 games after the starter was injured yet again. Henne however took the second opportunity more seriously and had a slightly improved 11/11 TD/INT ratio in 2012 with a 53.9% completion percentage. In 2013 he played 7 more games than the previous season and finished with a 13/14 TD/INT ratio and a slightly better 60.6% completion percentage. However after these two questionable seasons the Blake Bortles era began in Jacksonville and Henne once again was forced to sit for the majority of the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Now we’ve caught back up with ourselves, to the 2017 off-season where he joined the Chiefs Kingdom, how confident am I in Chad Henne as a back-up behind Mahomes? The answer, not particularly. If you’re a believer in bad luck charms then Henne certainly is one whilst being a second string quarterback. Both Pennington and Gabbert got injured in the first or second season that Henne joined the team (which isn’t promising for young star Patrick Mahomes). However, I’m not a massive believer in that sort of thing so we’ll put those two occurrences down to coincidence.
The main period of Henne being a starter was very mediocre; not terrible just a bit meh. In seasons where he’s started in more than 5 games, Henne never had more touchdowns than interceptions… that’s quite scary. However Henne wasn’t helped much either in 2008 or 2009: none of his receivers in Miami made it in the top 10 in any category over those two years (receiving yards, receiving yards per game etc etc) across the entire league. Same story for his career in Jacksonville where the only one to be on any top 10 list was Cecil Shorts who came 2nd in yard per reception in 2012. Still not that good of a performance from his receivers.
So maybe it wasn’t entirely Henne’s fault. A series of unfortunate events for him has led the back-up QB right to Arrowhead Stadium’s doorstep and it seems that, for the time being, he’ll remain a back-up if Mahomes doesn’t go down with a coincidental season-ending injury early on (fingers crossed on both hands). One thing is for sure, if Mahomes does go down and Henne is lent upon to carry the team for the third time in his career, he will be able to trust his receivers much more with the likes of Watkins, Hill, Kelce and Hunt filling up that Chiefs’ offence.