Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert gets a bit of a break this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. While he'll still have to deal with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, outside of those two the Colts defense is a bit "squishy", for lack of a better word. Currently, the Colts rank 24th in the NFL against the pass, giving up 260 passing yards a game and allowing opposing quarterbacks a rating of 112.7. The Colts defense has allowed 18 passing touchdowns and picked the ball off only 4 times, and have allowed 33 passing plays of 20 yards or more, the 5th most in the NFL.
I'm not saying Gabbert should throw for 250 yards and have a great game against the Colts, but he should look more like he did against the Saints in the first half and the Bengals than the last three games.
Gabbert's struggles have been covered around the nation by a myriad of NFL writers and analysts. Some point to his poor footwork and jitteryness in the pocket while others mention his supporting cast is the big killer. Both of those hold truth and it's honestly a combination of fail more so than just one thing.
Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union spoke with former NFL quarterback and now FOX announcer Chad Pennington about Gabbert. He had some interesting things to say about the young quarterback.
"The difference in an NFL receiver being open and a college receiver is night and day," said Chad Pennington, former Dolphins and Jets quarterback who was in the booth as an analyst for Fox when the Jaguars played the Saints. "There's a fine line between a completion and a knock-down pass or an interception."
"Secondly for a young quarterback, understanding most of your throws are thrown under duress, thrown with people around you. That's a process as well. Knowing how to be accurate when you can't set your feet and when things aren't how they should be. Those things, for a young quarterback, that's something that you learn on the job."
As Pennington sees it, those are things Gabbert can fix. He's not alone in his thinking. NFL.com's Steve Wyche spoke to anonymous NFL sources who said, "he's struggling but it's impossible to put a ton of blame on him or peg him as someone who doesn't have the potential to be good. His anticipation isn't where it needs to be, and his footwork and mechanics need refining. Those are coachable flaws."
Hopefully, Gabbert can show some significant improvement against a defense this Sunday who's been eaten up by the pass and the run.