Entering the game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Jacksonville Jaguars were expecting to get a good look into the quarterback competition between veteran David Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert. Garrard was getting his first set of action in the preseason and it was thought that a good showing by him could squash some of the talk of Gabbert breathing down his neck.
Unfortunately for Garrard, he did nothing to quiet it but on the other hand Gabbert did nothing to make it louder.Garrard opened the first drive of the game with a quick slant to receiver Jason Hill, followed up by a deep incomplete pass to Mike Thomas. Thomas had single coverage on the play, but he was blanketed and luckily the ball was batted to the ground. A few plays later, Garrard connected with Mike Thomas on a 24 yard pass, with pressure in Garrard's face. The next play however, was a bad bad throw for David Garrard. Garrard launched the football down field to Mike Thomas again, but the ball wasn't even close and got picked off by Brent Grimes.
"We got the right coverage it's a simple tech-4 and the safety came down hard and my job is to throw it 3 yards inside the hash and trust that my WR is going to be there with the coverage they had with the corner, he was a little high." Garrard said of the throw. "That's just a situation where the WR right there, if he feels like if it's a ball that he might not be able to catch, he just has to go knock it down if anything. I can help Mike by not throwing the ball up for him but we want to take shots," added Garrard.
Maybe it's just me, but that sure sounds like David Garrard is blaming Mike Thomas for a badly overthrown ball. There was no possible way Mike Thomas could have knocked it down.
On Garrard's next drive, he was able to move the football down the field and get in the redzone, but the team couldn't get in. Garrard missed Marcedes Lewis in the middle of the field on a pass that linebacker Sean Weatherspoon got his hands on. Two plays later, Garrard sailed a pass over Lewis in the endzone. If Garrard needed a strong showing to fend off Gabbert, he didn't do it.
Blaine Gabbert on the other hand didn't do a whole lot to really make up ground. The game worked out ironically enough that Garrard had left the door wide open for Gabbert to come in with the first unit and take the job by the throat. Instead, he went 3-and-out. To Gabbert's credit though, he made a beautiful fade pass to runningback Richard Murphy but he couldn't haul it in. The night went kind of like that for Gabbert. He'd leave the pocket too early at times, he took a sack he didn't need to. He missed some receivers when they were open. Until the second half, Gabbert struggled to move the football. He was able to lead a drive down the field, but it was stopped dead in it's tracks when Tiquan Underwood dropped what would have been a sure first down on third and 12.
Gabbert was given the ball right back after a muffed kick off that the Jaguars recovered, which was essentially where the drive would have continued if Underwood could catch. Gabbert missed Murphy on a pass, then dumped the ball off to Greg Ellingson for a short game to settle for another field goal. There wasn't really anyone open, but I'd have liked to see Gabbert take a shot in the endzone on both his pass attempts in that situation.
The only quarterback who looked like he wanted to win the starting job was Luke McCown, who came right in and led a long drive for a touchdown to seal the victory.
All in all, it was a wash for Garrard and Gabbert as far as the competition goes. In my opinion, it will be the same scenario next week: Garrard will need a good outing against the Buffalo Bills to fend off the rookie.
Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, who's played against David Garrard quite a bit had this to say after the game about the quarterbacks, "Garrard does what he does and that's to manage football games. He lets the plays come to him. He plays within the system and is a very good field manager." Robinson added about rookie Blaine Gabbert, "Gabbert can make every single throw. His future is very bright. I think he's going to be a very good quarterback in this league."