JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 11: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches the action during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field on December 11, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The development of rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been an intriguing and frustrating thing to watch. He'll have moments where he'll show you exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars saw when they traded up to get him. He'll have other moments however that make you think "Oh no, Jimmy Clausen!". Jaguars offensive coordinator doesn't seem to draw too much concern over Gabbert's slow start. "There's even guys playing in the league right now that were anointed superstars that aren't playing like superstars right now, that maybe started fast and then aren't playing as well now," Koetter told the media. "You can fill in your own blanks."
Koetter is obviously referring to someone like Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who the Jaguars faced on Sunday. Freeman looked like he was a budding star in the 2010 season, but has crashed back to Earth in 2011. "There are other circumstances besides just the guy playing quarterback," Koetter continued. "How good is his protection? Who is he throwing to? How good a defense is he playing against? How much do they blitz him? Is he getting knocked around? Is he getting balls tipped? There's just a lot of moving parts there and time will tell. All I can say is Blaine is making progress." Gabbert definitely looked better against the Bucs than he had all season, both with the "eye" test and on the stat sheet, despite his two interceptions."One of the toughest things for any quarterback is to stand in the heat of an NFL rush and know you are going to get hit, and stand in there and deliver," Koetter said. "I think that's a very difficult thing. And I think that's one of the biggest transitions that quarterbacks coming from the spread type system in college to a pocket system in the NFL, I think that is going to be one of a guy's biggest adjustments," Koetter continued. The issues in the pocket have definitely been the biggest issue with Gabbert, as he's looked skittish at times. He looked markedly different in that area last Sunday, stepping into quite a few of his throws and taking some big hits and still delivering a strike.
"Blaine is definitely working on that, I think he's making improvement in that area but that's an ongoing process. I know I use it a lot but I think experience will cure whatever ailments might be there," Koetter said. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, that's what the 2011 season will be remembered as, an experience year. If it works out for the better in the long run due to it however, it will be easier to look back on.