Against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Blaine Gabbert had another rough rookie outing. He completed just 9 of 20 passes for 93 yards, but he didn't turn the football over or make any critical mistakes. He did have what I'd consider his worst outing of the season. Earlier in the week I noted a few of the issues with Gabbert, and most of them were expected. His footwork is a big problem that will have to be hashed out, but that's tough to do in-season.
"We felt like we had been seeing steady improvement, but we felt like he took a little bit of a step back fundamentally. You can say maybe somewhat to be expected from a rookie, but it's not necessarily acceptable. He knows that. I'm not saying anything he already doesn't know," Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told the media yesterday after practice. The biggest point of the Jaguars offensive struggles have been passing the football, but that's to be expected with a rookie quarterback five games in. "The quarterback's the No. 1 issue. If we play more consistently at quarterback, well have a better pass offense. That's no big secret," said Koetter.Gabbert's had an interesting string of starts to begin his career. His first game was in a monsoon, he then had a great first half against the New Orleans Saints, but faltered in the second half. His next three games were against the top three defenses in the NFL and he heads into Houston to play yet another top 10 defense. Oddly enough, under head coach Gary Kubiak the Houston Texansare just 2-5 against rookie quarterbacks, including being 0-5 against first round picks.
Still, the biggest issue in the passing offense has been Blaine Gabbert just missing guys. A good reason for his inaccuracy as I pointed out earlier in the week is simple footwork. "The No. 1 thing has to be getting your quarterback to set his feet, to step up in the pocket, now the protection comes in and get the guys open and throw it them," Koetter said about Gabbert's struggles. "When we do that on a consistent basis, we'll have a better pass offense."
He's also dealt with pressure issues, still adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He'll sack himself at times, trying to hit a hole when he feels pressure, but those holes close at a much faster rate than when he was at Missouri. Still, the biggest plus Gabbert has shown so far in his five games is he's not going to make many mistakes, decision wise, throwing the football.
"He sees the field very well. That's one of his strengths," Koetter continued on Gabbert. "He can come right off after good or bad plays and immediately tell you what he saw. Not all quarterbacks I've coached can do that. Sometimes, they make a mistake, and they have no idea what happened. Blaine needs to have a more consistent pocket presence. He knows it. We're working on it. And I think that it's going to be better and better."
I'm not sure if it's going to be this week, but at some point Gabbert is going to have that break out game we've all been waiting for. Heading into the bye week is as good a time as any.