It’s too early to judge Blaine Gabbert
It was almost as painful watching Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert on Thursday night as it would have been being him. Fans saw him get sacked five times, fumble forced twice and have one interception thrown.
Blown out 14-41 by the Atlanta Falcons, Gabbert managed a meagre 141 passing yards, completing 12 of 22 pass attempts.
Struggling all season, Gabbert has looked the worst of the rookie QBs across the league, and at any other team he would have been benched.
The Jaguars have struggled with their passing game all year with a shortage of receivers, relying heavily on RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew has produced 46 percent of the teams offence for the year, the highest percentage from one RB in the league.
Without Jones-Drew, the Jaguars would be uncompetitive.
After performances like Gabbert’s on Thursday night, questions are always raised as to whether the QB is the right man to be taking the team forward.
Already with their season’s starting head coach sacked, the team’s season cannot get much worse regardless of Gabbert’s poor production.
Surprisingly, with a 4-10 record, the Jaguars sit third in their division courtesy of the 0-13 Indianapolis Colts.
Trading up to draft Gabbert with the 10th overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, the Jaguars envisioned Gabbert to be the starter for years to come. Still acclimatising to the pace of the NFL pass rushing, Gabbert is not in the same league as his fellow rookie QB draftees.
That is not to say he will not be.
Showing glimpses of a player who could be successful in the NFL, Gabbert’s occasionally completed throws to beat coverage suggest he can cut it in the league, just not yet.
Unlike Carolina Panthers rookie QB Cam Newton or Cincinnati Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton, Gabbert was not expected to be the starter going into the season and therefore was not given the same preparation.
The release of veteran QB David Garrard and poor performance from QB Luke McGown have thrust Gabbert into a tough position as starter.
From 12 games, Gabbert has thrown 1,783 yards for ten touchdowns and nine interceptions, an acceptable ratio for a rookie.
The Jaguars franchise are in no hurry to deliver wins and Gabbert is learning with every game. Panicking in the pocket is his biggest problem which will be addressed as confidence in his receivers improves.
Still very young, expectations of first round QBs are always high, but Blaine Gabbert is getting better and will justify his position as starter when he returns with a year’s worth of game-time experience.