Jacksonville Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell sees something in Blaine Gabbert that continues to elude me.
In a recent interview with the Florida Times Union, Caldwell reinforced his support for the perpetually underwhelming quarterback in what I can only describe as a moment of lunacy. Joking aside, Caldwell firmly believes that essentially what Gabbert needs are better weapons to work with and better protection in the pocket. With these elements, we could see a third-year revival of Gabbert—in his opinion.
He added that Gabbert had been very impressive so far in their communications. So, he was impressive in communications, and this is a reason to keep him as your starter? Oh Jacksonville, hasn’t the David Carr debacle in Houston or the Joey Harrington failure in Detroit taught you anything? Quarterbacks who were good in college and talk a good game don’t always add up to successes in the NFL.
This seems readily apparent in Gabbert’s case. Any team would love to have the likes of Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts at their disposal, and Maurice Jones-Drew is still one of the best runners in the league when healthy. Still Gabbert puts up paltry numbers and makes consistently bad decisions—only to occasionally be bolstered by the Cecil Shorts escaping-act play of 70 yards.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on the guy. Only one team, the Cardinals, allowed more sacks on average this season. But, there are two sides to that coin. It could very well be the case that Gabbert isn’t getting the ball out of his hands quickly enough. Chad Henne didn’t seem to have much trouble putting up serviceable numbers in his stead, when Gabbert got injured late in the year.
In any case, this is swiftly becoming the age of the first-year phenom, as we’ve seen players like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson all play stellar ball in their first go round. In any major market, Gabbert would have been thrown to the wolves by now. Fortunately for him, he’s in a small enough market that winning now isn’t the end all be all for the franchise.
For Gabbert’s sake, I hope Caldwell is right about him. Our own Byron Lambert has often lauded his third-year QB doctrine, in which a “system QB” will (or won’t) develop within three years. Three years is when you know, especially in variations of the West Coast offense. Something tells me this year will be much like the last and the one prior for Gabbert though. I’m afraid this would-be emperor has no clothes.