FOXBOROUGH — It’s not hard for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to get up for a 2-12 opponent. All he has to do is break down the film and he’ll find a reason or two to motivate himself, and in turn motivate his team.
But on Sunday, when the Patriots face the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars, he’ll also be able to point to the team’s history against quarterback Chad Henne.
Henne is in his first year playing for the Jaguars, taking over for the injured Blaine Gabbert. In four games as the team’s starting quarterback, he’s gone 1-3, and he’s thrown for 1,438 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a 75.1 quarterback rating.
Henne showed his best stuff against the Patriots while playing for the Miami Dolphins last season. On Monday Night Football, he was 30 of 49 passing for 416 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. He also ran for 59 yards and a score. It took 517 yards passing and four touchdowns from Tom Brady, including a 99-yard catch and run by Wes Welker, to help the Patriots hold off the Dolphins for a 38-24 win.
Belichick said he respects Henne, who is 1-4 all-time against New England, because he’s had some of his best performances against his team.
“With Henne, you really got to defend everything,” Belichick said. “You gotta defend all the receivers, you gotta defend the short balls, you gotta defend the play-action, the deep balls, a little bit of scrambling. I think he does a pretty good job of everything. And that’s really the hardest thing for a defense is when you gotta defend everything as opposed to just nailing it down to this is what he likes to do and it’s this small thing that they’re pretty good at but it’s just that one thing.
“You just can’t say that about Henne. He does a nice job of distributing the ball and getting it to places where the defense is light. That’s really what I think a quarterback should do. He’s certainly done it well against us. He’s had some of his best games against us. So we got a lot of respect for him.”
Henne has a bit of talent at wide receiver and tight end for the Patriots to concern themselves with. Rookie Justin Blackmon has 51 catches for 707 yards and three touchdowns. Cecil Shorts has 49 grabs for 925 yards and 7 TDs. And veteran tight end Mercedes Lewis has 41 receptions for 410 yards and four scores. And then there’s backups Laurent Robinson and Jordan Shipley.
“I would just say that Henne does a good job of reading coverages and getting the ball to the weak point of the coverage,” Belichick said. “He uses Shipley and Lewis in the inside part of the field, he uses his backs and checkdowns well, and he certainly can get the ball to the perimeter with Shorts and Blackmon. So he does a good job of spreading the ball around or taking where the defense is light.”
Here’s a snapshot of Henne’s games against the Patriots:
L 38-24 …. Sept. 12, 2011 — 30 for 49 for 416 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 7 rushes for 59 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble
L 38-7 … Jan. 2, 2011 — 6 of 16 for 71 yards, 1 INT
L 41-14 … Oct. 4, 2010 — 28 of 38 for 305 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs
W 22-21 … Dec. 6, 2009 — 29 of 52 for 335 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
L 27-17 … Nov. 8, 2009 — 19 of 34 for 219 yards