Chad Henne has lost his last four starts against the Patriots. He owns just one win in five tries against them, a 22-21 victory on Dec. 6, 2009, when he was with Miami, where he spent four seasons before joining Jacksonville in March as a free agent.
New England’s defense is familiar with the first-year Jaguars quarterback, then, and has been able to limit his passing damage, at least as far as game results go. Henne might get his yards — he’s thrown for at least 300 in three of the five games, with a high of 416 — but it’s typically come in a lopsided loss. The average score in Henne’s five games against the Patriots: New England, 33-17.
Henne couldn’t crack Jacksonville’s starting lineup until Nov. 25, due to shoulder and forearm injuries to Blaine Gabbert. Still, the Patriots are cautious about what Henne can do for the 2-12 Jaguars.
“He’s making a lot of plays. He makes a lot of good throws on the outside and especially over the middle, and can also make a lot of plays with his feet,” linebacker Jerod Mayo said. “I’ve always thought he was a solid quarterback, and he’s continuing to do those things.”
Look for the Patriots to apply pressure on Henne. They blitzed him 19 percent of the time in their game against him last season, and 33 percent in one of the games two years ago. The Jaguars have had a hard time protecting Henne, allowing 15 sacks in the four games he’s started, and 20 sacks in eight game appearances.
“There have been times where he’s under pressure, he’s able to escape and run or use his quickness in the pocket to then set up and throw the ball downfield and make a completion or make a good play,” coach Bill Belichick said. “With Henne, you have to defend everything: you have to defend the short balls, you have to defend the play-action, the deep balls, a little bit of scrambling.”
Focus on Welker
Wes Welker is a popular selection by media members covering New England’s opponent to be the designated Patriot on a scheduled teleconference, and last week was no exception. The Jacksonville media wondered if the veteran receiver, who signed a $9.5 million offer sheet after the Patriots placed the franchise tag on him, was surprised he couldn’t get a new deal from the team.
“No, I’m not worried about that at all. I did get a new deal,” Welker said. “I’m here with the team this year and looking forward to finishing it out.”
Can the Patriots place the franchise tag on him again after this season? “Yeah, they can,” Welker said.
Is he hoping they don’t?
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’m just focused on the game and what I have to do to help the team win.”
Not this time
Three Patriots didn’t make the trip to Jacksonville and were ruled out for Sunday’s game: tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm), linebacker Brandon Spikes (ankle/knee), and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee) . . . The Patriots signed receiver Kamar Aiken to the 53-man roster from the practice squad . . . Safety Steven Gregory on fellow safety Devin McCourty’s three end-zone interceptions: “Those are huge plays. Any time you can get a turnover, especially down there in the red zone, it’s huge, so hopefully we can keep making those plays.” . . . Jacksonville cornerback Antwaun Molden, who played in 19 games for New England last season, has played in the last three games . . . The Jaguars activated linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) from injured reserve and placed safety Dwight Lowery (foot) on IR.