Listening to everyone’s favorite local radio station this afternoon, they asked the question, "Who will be the Jaguars’ break out player this year?" They went as far to say that it could be Blaine Gabbert based on the fact that there is a right tackle this year instead of a bop bag. Assuming he could have time in the pocket to go through his progressions, he should theoretically be able to go through his progressions and put the ball into a receiver’s hands. I think that if Blaine is to turn a corner, it will not be due to the 2013 second overall draft pick, Luke Joeckel (at least not completely). I think it’s because of the difference in the team, the coaching staff, and his age.
Let us just take a look at just the head coaching changes in the past few years. Blaine started off his first year in the NFL as a last ditch effort from both Jack Del Rio and Gene Smith to prolong their jobs. He was thrust into the starting role well before he was ready when David Garrard was ninja-cut and Luke McCown played exactly like he was expected to. As much as the 2012 season made me have more respect for Del Rio making us competitive with so little talent on the roster, he had to have known very quickly into the 2011 season that his days were numbered. His demeanor, posture, post-game interviews all made him look and sound like a defeated man. That is, until he was fired.
With the 2012 season came new ownership, a new head coach, and all new offensive coaches. The fan-base was berated with the "All-In" slogan, and, like many others, I bought into it without really taking the time to analyze moves made in the past that put us in the situation we were in. Mike Mularkey may have had no chance to succeed with the inherited roster, but he also did not make it sound like we were in a rebuild. He never really seemed to be excited about things. I have seen inanimate objects that invoked more inspiration than him.
This leads me to the current season. Blaine Gabbert has been through 2 (and 1 interim) head coaches. He had a beaten man in Del Rio and a slow-zombie in Mularkey. He is now coming in as a 23 year old, third year veteran on an extremely young team. For the first time in his career, a very significant portion of his teammates will be looking up to him because of his experience and age. He also has a ridiculously charismatic head coach in Gus Bradley. Gus is someone that can teach him to be a leader. He is someone that can be a role-model to Blaine for how to motivate and inspire those around him.
I think that if Blaine Gabbert is to move forward and become at least a serviceable starter, it will be because he’s the one driving the Gus Bus.