Gabbert in 2011: Growing Pains or Sign of the Future?

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Jacksonville Jaguars
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jaguars fans may look back in several years and smile about Blaine Gabbert’s rookie season. Much like Cowboys fans did with Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, who helped his team go 1-15 as a rookie. Much like Colts fans do with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw a league-high 28 interceptions as rookie as his team went 3-13.

Gabbert’s rookie season thus far has been ugly, and that includes Sunday’s 14-10 loss at Cleveland. Oh, Gabbert showed some statistical improvement against the Browns, but the NFL’s lowest scoring team still managed only 10 points and couldn’t score at the end from inside the 5.

Gabbert’s biggest problem isn’t making mistakes; it’s making plays. Think about it: How many big plays as No. 11 made? How many big throws? How many clutch throws?

Much of the blame for Gabbert’s struggles is handed to Coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Their critics scream they’re keeping handcuffs on him. “Open up the offense” is a deafening cry from the fans and media. There’s no question Gabbert is operating from a small playbook.

But why?

I’ve known coaches who were bad leaders; coaches who were bad motivators; coaches who panicked on game day; coaches who stubbornly refused to make adjustments based on personnel. But, honestly, I’ve never met a coach who didn’t know the Xs and Os of the game. Sure, some are better at it than others, but all of them how the draw up plays and call plays.

Common sense says Del Rio and Koetter are keeping the handcuffs on Gabbert because they don’t think he has the ability or the experience or the help (or all three) to execute a wide open attack. Clearly, he isn’t getting much help from his receivers. We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if Jason Hill had caught a pass in the corner of the end zone with three seconds to play against the Browns. Was Hill interfered with on the play or did he simply drop it? Replays made it appear Browns’ cornerback Joe Haden hit Hill’s left hand before the ball arrived. For the record, it was a good throw by Gabbert.

The final pass was a terrible throw. Mike Thomas never had a chance to catch it. Should the Jaguars have handed the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew on the final play? Should Gabbert have passed the ball to MJD? Hindsight says absolutely, but remember this: if MJD had gotten the ball and not scored, then the critics would be screaming just as loudly.

Here’s what we do know: a highlight tape of Gabbert’s rookie season thus far would be a very short one.

Jaguar fans can only hope that in a few years the memories of Gabbert’s rookie season are that of a learning experience, not a sign of things to come.


  1. Terri says:

    Had Del Rio gone for the field goal before the half ended then he could have gone for one in the final minute…but no Del Bozo and his family must not have Scobee on their fantasy teams…since Josh has been rarely used since he beat the Ravens! DelBozo needs to GO! Hey Jag Fans are you still glad we passed on get it done Tebow for Panic Gabbert?

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