I wasn't excited about Blaine Gabbert when he was drafted. I was of the opinion that he wasn't pro ready and that he would need at least a year and probably more than that to be up to snuff. When Garrard was released, we all knew that it wouldn't be long before Gabbert was forced into the starting role. At that point, the season was officially lost.
Because of that, I (as well as many other fans) have spent this season watching for progress from Blaine Gabbert. I have watched every game, and I've been trying to be positive about Gabbert. Still as of right now, I am definitely not a believer. Why? To illustrate what turns me off about Gabbert's play, I'll offer some highlights from the Thursday Night game for your perusal.1st Quarter, 9:40 remaining: After being sacked on the first offensive play of the game, the Jaguars are in a 3rd and 11. Before Gabbert calls the snap, LDE Ray Edwards jumps into the neutral zone, drawing a flag. Gabbert has a free play, with two receivers to his right running deep patterns. The snap comes at 9:38. Gabbert has time to take his drop and set his feet. Three seconds is what he got, but three seconds is what you get in the NFL.
A smart QB takes a shot downfield in that situation, because even if the pass is intercepted, it's gonna come back. Gabbert has two check down receivers waiting five yards past the line of scrimmage, neither of whom Gabbert apparently sees. Instead, Gabbert sees the pressure, starts running backwards and is dragged down by two guys in red. Smooth.
The very next pass was a deep ball on a 3rd and 6, which lands at the opponent's 40 yard line. The closest player is the Falcons' safety, who was jogging casually at midfield. Announcers call it a "miscommunication."
End of first quarter: Blaine Gabbert, 1-2, -4 yards passing.
2nd Quarter, 0:58 remaining: 1st and ten from the Jaguars' 42 yard line. Gabbert takes a shotgun snap and starts wandering backwards. He looks left and sees nothing open. After three seconds (again, about what you're supposed to have as a QB), he sees the rush and starts scrambling to his right with the ball held loosely in his throwing hand. Gabbert doesn't feel the pressure and cover up the ball. John Abraham, after being fought back behind the pocket by Eugene Monroe, comes from the blind side and punches the ball out easily. The fumble is recovered by the Falcons. This turnover is turned into a field goal by the Falcons, just before halftime.
Halftime: Blaine Gabbert, 3-6, 21 yards passing. Sacked twice, one fumble lost.
3rd Quarter, 13:41 remaining: Gabbert had just fumbled away the ball on the previous series, giving the Falcons points before halftime. After gaining a first down thanks to some strong running by Maurice Jones-Drew, Gabbert has a second and 9 situation. Single back, bunch left, one WR wide right. John Abraham beats Guy Whimper and comes right after Gabbert.
Gabbert sees this one coming, so what does he do? He moves his feet, hoping to avoid the sack and AGAIN holds the ball precariously away from his body in his throwing hand. Needless to say, the ball pops out and is returned for a touchdown by DT Corey Peters.
The next two possessions are three and outs. The team, it should be noted, called three pass plays during those two series. The end result of those three plays is one completion for 1 yard on a checkdown and two more sacks. One could maybe chalk them up to good coverage downfield, but equally at fault is Blaine Gabbert's terrible pocket presence. On the second sack, Guy Whimper kept Kroy Biermann out of the pocket for Gabbert. After Gabbert's first man was covered, Blaine turned out of the pocket to run right. He tries to turn the corner, but runs right into Biermann.
End of the 3rd Quarter: The game is completely out of hand. The score is 41-0 Falcons. Usually when behind, a team throws the ball more to try and score quickly. The Jaguars threw much less. Gabbert is 4-7, 22 yards. He's been sacked four times and lost two fumbles.
4th Quarter: This is all against backups. He threw for another 120 yards to up his stats. He also threw an interception and a touchdown. He looked comfortable in spots against 2nd teamers playing prevent. That's about as inconsequential as anything you'll see in an NFL game.
Final stat line: 12-22 (54.5% completions), 141 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 fumbles lost, a touchdown-aided passer rating of 70.5
I find it beyond concerning and into pitiful that Gabbert performed so badly. When down, a team is expected to pass more to see if they can mount a comeback. Not only did Gabbert take a lot of sacks in those passing situations, he took them on third down. Going through three quarters of a blowout game with only 22 passing yards is pathetic and unacceptable, and I am officially done pretending like Gabbert has anything to offer to this team.
Knowing that he was a raw player, I thought the best I could expect from Gabbert was that he would get his play together after the week 9 bye. It became quickly clear that that did not happen. The offseason will do Gabbert good, but do we seriously think that a guy can go from pathetic to competent in one season?
I know it's sudden, and it sucks to see picks wasted, but there are good quarterbacks available in the upcoming draft. I think at this point it would be irresponsible and stupid not to do due diligence on Robert Griffin III and Matt Barkley, both of whom are viewed as top 5-10 picks.
The Jaguars should get one more win (assuming Gabbert doesn't screw us out of the Colts game) which would put the team at 5 wins and around the 8th overall pick. Sounds like a good spot to take a QB...