I was talking to a friend of mine, let's call him "Sam." He has a bit of an interesting love life and insists on telling me all about it (much to my dismay). Anyways, he told me about his most recent crush, who he's known for about a week. "She's great" he says. Then he starts getting all mushy and lovey-dovey about her. She's all he can talk about. He says "I dunno, but I might be falling for her." Yeah, after knowing the girl for one week, he thinks he might be in love. Does... does that seem odd to anyone else? Because, honestly, it has led me to wonder about "Sam"s mental stability that he has allowed himself to fall so fully in love that fast.
We all fall head over heels for at least a few people in our lifetimes. I know I've done it plenty. But the truth of the matter is, only knowing a person for a short while, how much can we really know about them? Enough to gamble our entire future on them? Maybe, but I certainly don't advise it.
Why do I mention this? Because the relationship between a city and it's starting quarterback is like any other relationship, and this situation above is the exact situation the Jaguars find themselves in with Blaine Gabbert. Yes, Gabbert is a smooth talker, he's talented and he has a charming personality. He very well could be great for the future of the franchise and I truly hope that he is. I think he's shown tremendous potential. Does that mean he's the right guy to have as the Jaguars starting quarterback right now? Maybe, but one week into this love affair, we don't know him well enough.Call me crazy, but I think Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman have done to NFL fans what Disney and Prince Charming have done to every little girl in the country: Confused them as to the true nature of relationships. Because of the success of past rookies, some fans have been taught that rookie QBs will come to camp ready to play. While there are certainly cases where that is true, it is not true in all cases. Ask any female and they'll tell you, the perfect Prince Charming is one in a million.
The Jaguars are in a wonderful and unique situation. The team has a long-term, successful starter already in place. A starter who has guided a rebuilding team to surprising levels of success. In '09, it would have been generous for an outsider to expect even a 5-11 season from the Jaguars, but the team overachieved and went 7-9. It was a great achievement, one that few could have imagined before the season began. Whether you want to admit it or not, David Garrard was a vital piece to that team's success, much like he was last year in leading a young 2010 team to an 8-8 record.
There are some who will tell you that the current QB situation mirrors the 2007 scenario with Garrard and Byron Leftwich. Admittedly, it is similar, but there is one gigantic difference. David Garrard, in 2007, was a 5-year veteran. He had thrown 550 passes as an NFL quarterback, and had played in 28 games. Basically, for all of his "newness," the Jaguars coaches knew who David Garrard was. Can you truly say the same for Blaine Gabbert?
I read Paul Kuharsky's Gabbert article this morning, and one line really stood out to me as making a lot of sense. Kuharsky was impressed by Gabbert's play and encouraged by it, but he wrote "It's important for the coaches to be able to correctly evaluate where Gabbert is." It doesn't say that Gabbert isn't talented, because he is, but it suggests what I've been trying to suggest on this site for a while now: we don't know where Gabbert is as a starting QB.
Call me naive. Call me over-cautious. Call me old fashioned, I don't mind. As for me, I want my relationship with my starting QB to be a long and meaningful one, and that means taking things slow. After all, relationships take time...
P.S.: "Sam" is a real person and we really had that conversation yesterday. The universe's sense of timing is impeccable, isn't it?