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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nowhere to go but up for Jaguars’ Blaine Gabbert

The Jacksonville Jaguars were a horrible passing team last year. They were ranked dead-last in passing yards despite having one of the league’s most efficient running games.

And although there were many factors that contributed to the Jaguars’ pathetic passing numbers, quarterback Blaine Gabbert has shouldered most of the blame for Jacksonville’s poor numbers.

Sure it was messed up how he became the starter. After minimal snaps during a lock-out shortened offseason, Gabbert went into the season as the third-string quarterback.

That is until former head coach Jack Del Rio decided to cut starting quarterback David Garrard less than a week before the season started. That gave second-string quarterback Luke McCown less than a week to get up to speed with running the offense.

The McCown experiment was a colossal failure though which led the coaching staff to move forward with the Blaine Gabbert era by Week 3.

Being thrown to the wolves the way he was last season probably wasn’t the worst of Gabbert’s problems though. Jacksonville lacked play-makers in the passing game which also hindered Gabbert’s progress and couldn’t have been too good for his confidence either.

Then there was the news that Gabbert played most of the season with a painful toe injury. While that doesn’t seem like a very significant injury to most people, any injury to your foot can affect your mechanics.

But we’re not here to give Gabbert excuses for such a lousy season. I bring up all of these things to show why Gabbert should be much better in his sophomore campaign.

Gabbert goes into this season as the clear-cut starter. He will also get the benefit of a full offseason and snaps with the first-team offense.

He should be healed from his toe problem so there won’t be a problem there. Injuries come with the territory and it’s hard to make it through a full season in the NFL without a few nicks and bruises so unless he suffers a season-ending injury then he won’t get a pass in that department this season.
He won’t be able to use the excuse that he doesn’t have any targets to throw to either after the Jaguars moved up to draft play-maker Justin Blackmon and signed wide receiver Laurent Robinson away from the Dallas Cowboys during the offseason.

On top of that, the Jaguars hired a head coach and offensive coordinator who have a history of developing quarterbacks; the most recent being Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.

And one last factor that should aid in Gabbert’s development is Jacksonville’s potent rushing attack. While it doesn’t seem like having the league’s leading rusher to hand off to helped Gabbert very much last season, in reality Gabbert’s numbers could have been a lot worse.

Jaguars’ fans can expect to see much better results from Gabbert and the offense this season. Jacksonville has done nearly everything it could do (they still need to give Maurice Jones-Drew a contract extension) to put Gabbert in a position to succeed this season.

So with more time to study the offense, better weapons at his disposal and a coaching staff that understands the importance of bringing him along at a steady pace, Gabbert has no excuse not to improve on his rookie season. Besides, he really can’t get any worse can he?

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Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.

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